Another attractive performance by the Mariners against Sydney left the team without a result when former hero Matt Simon stole the points with two late finishes against ten men.
In the early part of the game Sydney showed the quality and composure they are known for (and have paid the cold hard cash for). When marquee man, Holosko sent a sublime back heel between three Mariners players to position Alex Brosque to setup Shane Smeltz for the first goal of the match, they delivered on their good showing. Within moments, the Mariners hit back with Fabio Ferreira taking advantage of some sloppy defence and ball watching to set up Roy O’Donovan to even the scores. From that moment Sydney allowed the Mariners to play the open game they were seeking and had Roy O’Donovan delivered from a one on one with the Sydney keeper, the Mariners would have lead 2-1. Soon after this the referee inexplicably failed to call “the penalty”. Yes, I know two people have been found (Brenton Speed and John Kosmina) who disagree with that assessment, but the overwhelming majority of neutrals and commentators agree it was a penalty, so my apologies if there is another person who agrees with those two. At that point the score could have been 3-1 to the Mariners with Sydney down to 10 men and their spare goalkeeper between the sticks. Instead, two yellow cards – one a very dubious diving decision and the other a straight forward late tackle, saw the referee produce a red card for Nick Fitzgerald and this destroyed any chance of a “fair dinkum” match between the teams.
After half time the Mariners came out with plenty of attacking intent, created plenty of enthusiastic play and were well in the game, but ultimately ran out of petrol. Eventually Matt Simon was left to collect two great balls, unmarked, and take advantage. Fair play to Matty as a much loved record holding Central Coast legend, he gets nothing less than respect from me and his celebrations were expectedly muted.
Despite the loss, there were again plenty of positives and one of the brightest was the performance of rookie Jake McGing who was my player of the week, took two points in the Fox Sports man of the match and was selected in the A-League team of the week. Not bad for a 21 year old with 4 games experience. To me McGing’s performance has grown with every one of his small number of starts and this is a continuation of his rise through the NYL over the last year or two. Despite being unable to singlehandedly shutdown Matt Simon in the dying stages on Saturday, McGing was a standout and I expect that won’t be the last time we see that from him.
This weekend the Mariners take on Wellington Phoenix in Gosford and the Mariners will be keen to take advantage of the home ground and the fact that the Nix have had a shorter turnaround. The Phoenix were given a football lesson by Victory on Monday night in Melbourne and will either be stinging to bounce back or jaded from that result and their travels. Former Mariner – Michael McGlinchey – will present the biggest danger for the boys in pink, described as having created the most chances in the league so far this year. If Central Coast can close him down they will go a long way to getting the points, but that will not be an easy task. No Mariners fan can doubt his quality after many years watching him in our shirt.
The annual Pink day event takes place this weekend so hopefully we see plenty of yellow fans donning their pink strips to join in raising awareness of womens cancer. The team’s playing shirts for the game have already been put up for auction and some of the most popular players are already well into the hundreds of dollars, with plenty of bids taking place for all. This is a great opportunity for the fans to take home a great piece of memorabilia and at the same time raise funds for a very worthy cause.
I think the Mariners can make the attacking intent count this time and take the points with a confidence inspiring win.
My prediction Mariners by 2