After the ecstasy of beating the Champions Central Coast fans were brought back to earth when Adelaide came to town. It was a strange night in many ways – who on earth thinks it’s a good idea to play a game on Thursday night in this retiree, commuter and family area? One thing is for sure – and that was well known before the game – people on the Central Coast certainly don’t think it is. The attendance announced was a little over 5000 but I found it very difficult to believe there were that many. There has been plenty of talk about how the FFA hasn’t promoted games or the league properly this season and scheduling decisions like this one seem perfectly placed to ensure a continuation of the general down turn in interest in A-League season thirteen.
Adelaide were seemingly a bit depleted before the match and with their appearance in the FFA Cup Final less than a week later, it seemed that all Central Coast had to do was to maintain the form of the previous week to take the points. It turned out neither of those things happened. Adelaide were missing a couple in the starting team but their squad is full of depth. Their level of fitness ensured that not only were they at their most competitive as the game wore on but that they were able to back up quite well just five days later in Sydney.
It turned out our side was the depleted one. Missing Asdrubal (Heel), Storm Roux (Ankle), Alan Baro (Suspension) and losing Josh Rose (calf) after the warm up, we were forced to draw on our reserves, some of whom had little or no game time, match fitness or experience. Collectively three out of four of the replacements would have been lucky to have played a full match worth of minutes in the season so far. In the first half, while the intensity in the contest was a far cry from the previous week, our side held its own and managed to earn a penalty and the lead. But Adelaide had already shown how dangerous they are and if anything they looked more dangerous as the match went on. After half time Adelaide seemed to moved up a gear and put a lot of pressure on the weakest areas of our defense. For some time we handled it well but as the match came to a conclusion, while we might have been lucky and held on, it seemed only a matter of time before we conceded and confirmed the loss, and so it was.
Our squad depth was sorely exposed in this one with the only positive being that we added some experience and some match fitness to some of those replacement players. Every team will have times when key players are unavailable through the year so it’s pretty important we do what we can to ensure those players not currently part of the first choice squad are as prepared as possible. Hopefully the National Youth League season having now started will provide options for ensuring our reserves are fit and prepared whenever they’re called upon.
In good news Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp spoke during the week about the replacement video screen at Central Coast Stadium and described a bigger, better and brand new replacement screen he is confident the council will complete installing for first use New Years Eve. Additionally some progress has been made on replacing or enhancing the audio system and some serious work is apparently underway to resolve the issues with our pitch. None of these are before time but they are certainly valued if true.
Tomorrow night we take on the Phoenix in Wellington. Always a difficult place to get a result. The Nix have had a mixed start to this season but most recently their form has improved and while they didn’t play at all last weekend their last result was a 5 -2 home thrashing of Perth Glory. They will be fresh and the week off will have given an opportunity for their players to recover from any minor niggles.
For the Mariners, Captain Alan Baro returns from suspension and the possible return from injury of Asrubal is timely. Blake Powell’s reappearance in the squad is pleasing and provides a welcome extra attacking option. After returning from a long term injury in the last few weeks his form playing in National Youth League in trials and their first game of the season has eye catching and I sense he could be a different player in the current squad than he was last season. Intriguing will be how Paolo Okon uses each of his attacking players. No doubt he will take no risks so how he fits Kwabena Appiah with the two returning from injury (Adrubal and Powell) will be of interest. Josh Rose obviously didn’t recover from his calf injury so didn’t travel. He will no doubt be replaced by Kye Rowles again, who will be much improved after having his fitness thoroughly tested last start. Jake McGing has grown in form and will no doubt continue to replace the still injured Storm Roux. Last weekend certainly taught us how important having depth in our squad is and how we can improve and make use of the whole squad will be an important factor in building any momentum as we move through the rest of season.
I think we can get something out of this if we can match our best from the Sydney game.Google+