The Mariners missed out on the three points again this week but what a way to get a point in the F3 Derby. It’s always a great night when the Central Coast fans go home from a Derby draw feeling like we’ve won and knowing that the Jets fans were heading home feeling like the draw was a loss. It was a great experience to be part of the celebrations with other travelling post-match. Massive credit to Tony Walmsley and the management team engaging the away fans pre and post-match.
The vast majority of the game there was only one team in the contest to win it. Mariners made some excellent play without any reward early. Mitch Austin was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when he was fouled by Mateo Poljak just inside the box. Jake McGing’s send-off was disappointing for a young star in the making but probably justified. Though there was no need to make a tackle like that in the position he did, as you run the risk of a red card if you do, in my opinion there have been similar tackles this season which have attracted a yellow card at most. I’ll call it an acceptable decision but if that is the case I’d also like to see that consistently applied across all A-League matches. Despite being down to 10 men, the boys in yellow never looked short against the Jets who provided little for their fans to get excited about until their late set piece goal changed their chance of escaping a 0-0 draw. The Mariners still never gave up on getting all three points and worked hard to create more opportunities, still without being able to finish any. Just when it seemed it would be a shame we got nothing for our excellent efforts, Matt Sim came up with the most relieving of equalisers with almost the last kick of the game.
Mitch Austin was huge for the Mariners constantly getting around his defenders with speed and guile but it was Nick Montgomery’s “Captain’s Knock” which caught the eye. Leading by example it was Monty’s tireless, ball-winning performance which carried the team to perform right till the end. Jacob Poscoliero also had a great game in central defence, a position which he has now surely made his own.
The Mariners take on A-League Champions Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park tonight and face a tough battle. To me Victory have a number of the best players in the A-league, for their respective positions, and that makes this the most difficult away trip in the league, for any club. All of the big Victory players are in great form right at the moment so you couldn’t say it’s a good time to be playing them either. Love him or hate him, Kevin Muscat has assembled an enviable team of individuals and it seems he has also been able to marshal them to deliver on their brilliance. The first club in the country to hold all three pieces of FFA silverware at the same time, at this point it is hard to see a weakness for opposition to try and exploit.
The Mariners continue to play with attacking game plans and creating plenty of opportunities, still without getting the results their good endeavour should deserve. The players seem to be gaining experience with applying the style the Manager is demanding though, and there is a sense that if a thing or two fell our way we might start a stream of scoring. While it is possible we could perform the perfect upset tonight, we are playing against the competition favourites in their city, while testing the injury and suspension depth of our own youthful squad. McGing’s suspension will force a reshuffle of defensive players and it will be how the selected group manage to contain the potent attack of the Victory that will tell in this match.
I’d like to think we could compete with the might of the Victory if things went our way a little but realistically it’s likely to be a tough night at the office for our boys. A draw would be superb.
My prediction – Victory by at least 1