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BY THE PALM TREES

While there is still much to like about the way the Central Coast Mariners are going about their work, the persistent defensive blunders are taking the gloss off our good efforts. It’s frustrating. Still without our first win after three rounds, a solitary point is all we have to show for our play which has at times seemed excellent. Take nothing away from Perth last weekend. They were switched on enough to identify our weakness and had enough quality to make us pay for it.

Despite this away loss, the signs still remain of a team with a plan that can dominate games, at least part of them. Some theorise the coach has “no plan B”, and maybe they’re right but I think it’s more-so where individuals have failed to identify our defensive weakness at key moments quickly enough to be able to stop them from being exposed. I imagine fixing this would be the primary focus for the team at the moment.

Positively, we return to our Central Coast Stadium home this weekend and I’m hopeful the quality of our beloved pitch has improved considerably since round one. In the first round it was dotted with bare patches and sand fill, affecting players ball movement in that game. It would be nice to see a return of the perfect surfaces we have become accustom to over the years.

I believe we’re still working through issues with our “big screen” and that a temporary screen will again be used to fill the gap. It’s disappointing but fans will have to be satisfied that Central Coast Council will make good with a worthy permanent replacement screen (or screens). Below is an example of the screen size being used in other stadiums and a picture of the screen at ours. It’s time the council brought the screen facility up to scratch. Allianz Stadium has two screens like the one below, which I believe at a minimum are HD quality. It would be no exaggeration to say they’re each ten times the size of the one at our stadium…

One of the two video screens at Allianz Stadium in Sydney

The broken Central Coast Stadium video screen

It might become my weekly rant but the #VAR is an absolute disaster for our game. I think Kenny Lowe summed it up best in his press conference, when he talked about how we’ve simply moved from one subjective system to another. Bbut the head of the A-League Greg Rourke assures us that “this season we have only had three decisions go to referee review in 16 games”. The trouble is Greg, every single game has been delayed and sometimes these have been lengthy delays. For the fans, put simply this isn’t enjoyable to watch. The at ground and TV coverage of when and what is being reviewed by #VAR is either non-existent or inconsistently delivered. Put simply, this leaves fans, commentators and seemingly everyone else confused!

We were all better off when we accepted officials were doing their best, occasionally argued about whether they didn’t over the Monday water-cooler and the governing body made even just a feeble attempt to make explanation when the system breaks down. I was happy with that and I have no doubt the majority of other football fans.

The concept of a national second division is certainly important for the future of football in Australia. I see no reason not to proceed to planning how to create such a competition but the most important thing is to make sure the wrongs of the past are not repeated. Any model which can ensure an ongoing more inclusive and fair balance among all of footballs modern day stake holders is worthy of consideration. At the very least, the current proposals can form the basis for an ongoing conversation with that end.

Besart Berisha is lucky to have received just the two weeks of actual suspension (two suspended weeks) based on punishments for previous offenders. Deciding on his push away of the fourth official least weekend must have been a pretty easy task for the Match Review Panel. By all means counsel or even sanction the official if his contact is to be considered offensive, but that contact does not excuse Berisha’s pushing him away and only the most desperate would try to defend it. His absence won’t do our chances any harm against the Victory on Sunday night but there is no doubt they have the quality across their squad to easily cover his absence.

Our boys will feel they haven’t received just reward for their enterprising game plan and style of play so far this season. At the same time they will be eager to show that they can deliver that for longer and that their defensive frailties are resolved. There is no better opportunity to show that than in front of the home fans at Central Coast Stadium against Victory. If indeed the surface at the stadium has improved since our first home game, I look forward to a pitch more suited to the passing game we will want to play.

Melbourne Victory has a team full of stars and are one of the most physical sides in the A-League – some would say over physical. If our boys can match that effort I think we can give ourselves a shot of confidence with a rousing home win.

About Erin Morrow (103 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