Wow! What a performance! Paul Okon’s men shrugged off the Thursday night home loss to Adelaide with a complete demolition of Wellington in one of the hardest away trip locations of the A-League.
From the first minutes of the game the Mariners dominated. We could easily have taken the lead earlier than we did when a perfectly weighted Daniel De Silva through ball put Andrew Hoole one on one with the Wellington keeper. Unfortunately Hoole was unable to finish the chance, but when the rebound fell to De Silva just outside the box and Kwabena Appiah returned his one two pass, it looked like we would still have our first. Somehow the Wellington keeper managed to recover in time to stop it. Just when fans might have been having some doubts, we were rewarded for our dominance before half time, with a bit of luck. A beautifully placed Hoole corner caused confusion among the Phoenix defenders and led to an own goal. At the break we led 1-0.
It was more of the same in the second half and despite being knocked around by a cynical tackle in the midfield; De Silva was in position to finish our second soon after when a loose ball from a Connor Pain cross fell in front of him. He made no mistake with the finish and, at least temporarily, any pain from the earlier foul dissipated.
Next up came a stunning goal from the edge of the box by Andrew Hoole. Involved in some beautiful possession interplay moments earlier, followed by weaving his way through four Wellington defenders with a couple of deft touches, Hoole sent the ball wide to the left for Pain in space. Continuing on to pick up the return ball at the top of the box Hoole made a perfect first touch and then powered his strike into the absolute top corner leaving the keeper with no chance.
The only disappointing moment for us came when a defensive lapse allowed Wellington to finish from a header off a free kick. Despite that momentary set back, it was a very complete Mariners performance and when Trent Buhagiar placed his shot into the back of the net from a Blake Powell assist, the cake, the icing and cherry were all in place.
There has been plenty going on around the game this week as most matches last weekend were plagued by poor entertainment and controversy thanks to the consistently inconsistent VAR. My thoughts about it usefulness are now well known so I’ll leave it up to everyone else to cover the many problems that have been introduced to football with this trial. There is no shortage of critics willing to discuss it in the media.
Late in the week the “FFA vs the rest football people” democracy controversy finally came to a head. Steven Lowy’s well known – and well rejected – proposal for a contrived congress voting system was finally and formally voted down by everyone except the smallest member associations who represent the smallest number of players of the game. The fact that 7 of the 10 votes come from such a small slice of football is a measure of how unacceptable to current arrangements are, and no doubt those representatives were in Lowy’s pocket.
When the A-League was born I was happy to see a strong and even dictatorial approach. I felt (and still believe) this ensured the independence of decision makers controlling the direction of the game and allowed the fledgling A-League to move forward beyond the factions and vested interests of the past. As the A-League has grown, it has become more and more obvious to me (and many) that in order for the game to continue to grow to what I believe is its rightful place in the Australian sporting landscape, the “Central Authority” model of operation needed to change and needed more inclusive representation for all parts of the sport today. I believe the agreement on the structure of the congress that was made between stakeholders (including FIFA) when FIFA last visited, and which was harpooned by Steven Lowy, would have been a fair way forward with parties properly represented to ensure the game can capitalize on its unique culture. If Steven Lowy and his “independent” board members were not consigned to the roles of “dead men walking” when they decided to quash that original agreement they certainly have been now. Continuing to play the game of brinksmanship all the way to losing the vote and then following that up by insulting the very people who would ultimately elect a democratic board in the future via his post meeting comments certainly seems to have sealed his fate in the eyes of many, including me.
So back on the good stuff of football – this weekend we triumphantly return home to the Central Coast Stadium where we take on Perth Glory on Sunday afternoon at 5.00pm. The game has been rescheduled from 7.00pm in recognition of the number of families whose children cannot be expected to stay out late because it’s a school night. Some will say the quality of the football is better at night, but others (most likely the majority) will either not mind or will take the opportunity to attend with their child where they might not otherwise have done. On top of the family friendly timeslot, the Central Coast Mariners have taken the initiative to make the value proposition great by setting up all sorts of options for each and every family member. What a great, innovative idea that is. Click here for details.
Perth Glory comes to Gosford after having accounted for a ten man Melbourne City last outing and while this should give them some confidence, they will also most likely be without key players Adam Taggart (hamstring), Diego Castro (calf) and Andy Keogh (calf). Given this trio were Glory’s most influential players when we took them on in Perth recently, we have a key opportunity to gather momentum, please the home fans with a great performance, and take a second consecutive win.
There were few (if any) poor performers in our last outing including injury replacements Jake McGing, who has been in great form in recent weeks, and Kye Rowles whose performance shutting down Wellington danger man Roy Krishna last weekend had a few moments of nervousness but was mainly excellent. He might not have much experience yet but if he continues to improve like he did between these two matches he will provide selection headaches ahead of the upcoming return of Josh Rose. Kwabena Appiah struggled to have the direct impact (on the scoresheet) that he would have hoped, but his performance harassing defenders with his pace and his cohesion with team mates offered plenty of positives.
So everything is set for a great game. The team is looking good, they have a little bit of momentum, the off field promotion of the game should be encouraging fans to be there and the opposition are notoriously poor travelers. Bring it on!Google+