By the Palm Trees – Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory

Derby bragging rights are everything for the fans and while our Central Coast Mariners didn’t get the win we craved, at least they saved the fans from the embarrassment of a loss. In fact, when Mat Sim stepped inside his player late in the match at Hunter Stadium it looked likely we would be leaving with the points. Alas, it wasn’t to be. There is still plenty of work to do and plenty of issues around squad, team and performance, but again, that hasn’t been the main topic of discussion among Mariners fans this week.

The team is off to North Sydney Oval to take on Melbourne Victory on Friday night and this is going to be a hell of a tough match for them. Melbourne Victory has been in fantastic form this season and with the quality and depth they have across their squad that’s no surprise. They have proven they have what it takes to compete when it counts this season. Despite losing players at various times through injury and representative duty, the Victory has remained a consistent force in each of their matches so far.

The Mariners on the other hand continue to struggle to find a way to score goals and last week was no exception. In reality, we just don’t look that dangerous in attack. We create plenty of half chances but don’t seem to be able to turn enough of them into great chances. We create a couple of great chances but don’t seem to be able to turn them into goals. I continue to be concerned about the way we construct the squad and make selections. If we were knocking away goals, getting some wins and putting some points on the board I’d be less concerned about selections but we don’t seem to be able to find the balance between establishing selection consistency and making changes to promote our best players.

Perhaps one of the bright hopes in light of the team’s indifferent performances so far this year is that the likely poor surface at North Sydney Oval will challenge the speed and quality of Victory’s play and this could be a positive for the boys in yellow

On the issue of the quality of the venue – North Sydney Oval looks brilliant in pictures and on television screens but after visiting for last season’s match against Phoenix I can honestly say there is no other aspect of the place which I can say a positive word about. For the purposes of football matches I don’t think a re-development to bring it up to standard is required, it would need to be more a demolition and replacement.

  • Parking is a disaster around the area
  • Entry is through archaic, crowded and decaying entry points
  • The oval shape combined with the position of the concourse (between the arena and the viewing positions) and the orientation of the pitch means the fans are so far from the action there are no quality viewing positions in the entire venue
  • The quality of the seating (where there is seating) is akin to sitting on park benches
  • The surface itself is considered by the players to be hard, has a cricket pitch running across it and those players not gagged by their club have made it clear they fear injury playing on it.
  • The match day operations, players and officials facilities are ‘dungeon’ like (at best)

Worst of all, its many kilometres from the place our Mariners boys call home. It might be an ok place to play a pre-season game, an FFA cup match or even a one-off community round game to generate some North Shore interest but that’s as far as it should go.

It will be interesting to see what sort of turnout the match gets with the background of Central Coast fans frustrated at the uncertainty the owner seems to have again wanted to create in the lead up to the game. The latest comments suggest it will be a disappointment if anything less than 10000 turns up. Well, I hope the owner is ready for that because I can’t see tonight’s game achieving that number and if it gets close, it will largely be the people who reluctantly travelled from the Coast, torn between supporting their team and validating the owners crowd hopes, who achieve it.

It is frustrating for the fans to wonder whether the team might be in partly or wholly taken away from the Coast, but perhaps most difficult for the fans to swallow has been the way the owner delivers the news. Long-time paid members of the club first hearing ambiguous expansion plans in the general media strikes me as a great way to alienate people and it seems to be working. It’s careless or thoughtless at best, and downright disrespectful to the hard working and loyal supporters who have put in plenty to help their club over the years, at worst.

I’d like to say we could take the chance to knock over one of the heavyweights of the comp and get our season heading in the right direction. Realistically I think that is unlikely but I’m hopeful we might be able to get away with a point.

My Prediction Victory by 1

About Erin Morrow (106 Articles)
Football fanatic and amateur analyst. An over 35′s player and sometimes coach. He does the occasional refereeing. Passionate Central Coast Mariners foundation member. Follow on Twitter: @Erin_Mariner