It was absolute scenes at Central Coast Stadium on Friday night after we brought last season’s Champions to their knees with a dominant two nil display. It wasn’t so much getting our first win of the season, it wasn’t keeping our second clean sheet in a row, it wasn’t even moving up the table to sixth spot after the victory. For me it was mostly about the way we did it and celebrating together afterwards was very sweet.
After the game and despite their own pundits enjoying being close to the postgame celebratory action, Fox Sports decided there was a story around the Mariners (players, coaches, staff and fans) taking celebrations too far. “Over the top?” they questioned. What a load of rubbish and a typically out of touch move from them! Apparently it isn’t enough that small clubs like ours never seem to get the rub of the green on the pitch, Fox Sports think it’s somehow good form to try and stick their nose into our business and make something negative of how we enjoyed our (recently rare) success. It’s worth noting that the Mariner’s postgame “Family Photo” moment has been in the planning for more than a year and while we have half-heartedly attempted it several times, this was the first time we’ve really been able to enjoy real moments of success together, as a “Mariners Family”. As the A-League broadcaster, you would think they could have done a little research and would respectfully mind their own business about how we celebrated together instead of trying to “beat up” a story for their own gratification. Some of them have always enjoyed trying to put our club down. It’s nothing new, we’ve been used to this sort of thing, it’s been happening for many years, and to be honest, we don’t care.
Our former mentor Graham Arnold spoke during the lead up to the game about his team performing at just forty three percent of capacity. Maybe being disrespectful wasn’t his intention, I’ll give Arnie the benefit of the doubt on that, but either way it back-fired big time. I heard from a source close to the dressing room that those comments were one of the main motivators for our team in this performance and those comments have been the subject of many jokes since. To his credit, while Arnie looked like he had swallowed a bee at the post match press conference, he did the right thing, not seeking to divert attention from the Mariners quality performance in his comments, rightly saying our side were excellent. It must have been difficult for him to speak about his side losing at the press conference. It has been a long time since he had to do it.
It has been said that our coach “doesn’t have a plan B” and we all know Paul Okon’s reputation for playing with a possession based game plan but on this occasion we weren’t able to hold onto possession as we have been able to in earlier matches. Sydney’s quality allowed them to dominate most of the possession and statistics while it was our superb transition game which hurt them that night. The sky blues didn’t seem to be able to get any sort of control of the game with the Mariners intensity and their own slow play stopping them playing through our midfield and constantly allowing our wide midfielders to recover to stop their wide fullbacks from getting forward. Milos Ninkovic was quality on the ball but had most of his possession too deep in their midfield for him to be able to play any really cutting passes. The Mariner’s wing play was again a feature with Pain and Hoole dominating the wide areas in attack. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi replaced Asdrubal at half time when the striker picked up a heel injury but we lost nothing. “Kabsy” (as he is known) has been in scintillating form lately and he stepped that up another level in this match as he tormented the Sydney back four with his speed and intensity.
Last word on last Friday’s match is about the state of the pitch. It is massive concern that the pitch was worse than it had been at the last home match we played. It was watered close to game time which meant the surface was slick and played better, but in reality it was still patchy and there were plenty of bobbles for the players, proving it was poor. Given there has been two weeks between matches it is a huge shame our maintenance method or budget doesn’t allow us to get the surface into the pristine carpet it has been in recent seasons. It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the budget must be lower than it has been in the past and that is the very type of disappointing approach Coasties are becoming used to with our local government.
We were by far the better team this week, an absolute necessity after our average performance in Brisbane a week ago. Now we need to prove we can do it consistently and we won’t get a better opportunity to get one over Adelaide than tomorrow night. After a promising start to the season and confirming their place in the FFA Cup final Adelaide have more recently racked up three consecutive losses. They’ve had problems with injuries so we couldn’t hope for a better opportunity to continue our good form. The loss of Alan Baro after he received a second yellow card last match will provide Paolo with some work to do and BTW that is an example of where our side don’t get the rub of the green. Former Mariners hero Alex Wilkinson certainly earned as many cards as Baro but it was Baro who received two. Regardless, Liam Rose will likely be employed to replace Baro and he has shown in the early part of the season he is always ready. We have lost nothing when Rose has been called into the action and we gain an excellent ball player who can calmly compose play from the back as well as just about anyone.
I have been asked not to tip our side as my tipping of us has neither been on the money nor helpful to us so far this season, but this time I’m doing it on form not hope. I think we can take advantage of our momentum, our intensity and our improving performances and take a second win on the bounce.
Central Coast Mariners to win by at least 1.Google+