The Central Coast Mariners were unlucky to miss out on gaining at least a point in their home game against Brisbane Roar at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday, December 19.
Brisbane Roar cemented a 2 to 1 lead that meant they departed the Central Coast sitting equal second on the A-League Table with 20 points, while the Central Coast remain in ninth place, still three points in front of Adelaide United. An end-to-end fi rst half hour of play saw the two teams gridlocked. Central Coast Mariners dominated possession and had their chances to open the scoring but then controversy struck.
Referee Chris Beath made a hand ball call that gave a free kick to Brisbane and had Mariners’ fans and Coach Paul Okon seething with the unfairness of it. In his post-match interview, Okon was asked to comment on the awarding of the free kick that gave the Roar the lead in the 33rd minute. Okon said he was probably the worst person to ask whether or not the hand ball call was correct. “I don’t get the handball rule,” Okon said. “The player said it hit him on the shoulder and that he never went with his arm, but the referee said he made a movement with his arm. “I don’t recall a movement and from where I’m sitting it doesn’t look like a free kick. “But the ball still has to go in and it’s a great strike and very difficult for the goalkeeper to get to,” Okon said of the superb Petratos free kick that gave the Roar a one goal lead they were able to maintain through to half time. Brisbane Midfi elder Dimitri Petratos took the kick from just outside the penalty area giving Paul Izzo no chance.
First half highlights for the Mariners included the return from injury of Club Captain Nick Montgomery, who showed no signs of stress, settling straight back into the pace of things, continuing to pull the strings in the middle of the park. The Central Coast’s defensive efforts continued to improve but the home side had a bit of good luck with Brisbane’s Jack Hingert hitting the post in the 20th minute. Roy O’Donovan’s reply within a minute was saved by the Roar’s keeper, Theo, but was a heartening prelude to the striker’s second-half efforts. The Central Coast Mariners appeared to come back from the halftime break with more determination than they showed in the fi rst 45.
Roy O’Donovan managed to pounce on the end of impressive build up play by Montgomery and Fabio Ferreira to score at the 57th minute, bringing the game back to level pegging. Ferreira found the feet of a charging Roy O’Donovan with a pinpoint through ball. O’Donovan scooted through the Roar back four to calmly shoot past Theo. Okon appeared hesitant to make any changes around the hour mark and was arguably outcoached by John Aloisi when the Roar’s powerful attacker Thomas Broisch took to the park. With the Mariners pushing men forward in a desperate effort to take the lead, Brisbane doubled their score at the 76th minute, when Broich picked out Maclaren on the back post where the young attacker headed home with ease. Okon then made his second change, the straight swap of Connor Pain for Trent Buhagiar.
“Trent’s a threat, so is Connor and Fab. “We had a few players who were probably underdone today coming into the game, so we needed to be really mindful of making subs at the right time, because we didn’t want to be left for the last 10 minutes without a sub if something happened. “We are happy with the way Trent came on and was a threat,” Okon said. The Mariners came close to equalising on several occasions during the last 20 minutes, but the Roar held out and were able to take all three points home with them. “Maybe a draw would’ve been a fair result, we are a bit disappointed with the result, but we kept going until the last minute,” Okon said. “The effort was there and in the fi nal third we were a bigger threat in respect to last week and we worked on that during the week,” he said, commenting on the Mariner’s previous week’s loss to Wellington Phoenix.
“We set up a little differently tonight, but their fi rst goal was a wonderful free kick, and their second goal, we lost the ball in transition and, as Thomas does, he puts in a peach of a cross and all Maclaren has to do is head it home. “We had our moments, but it wasn’t to be, and we leave here with no points,” Okon said. The Mariners’ Coach said his squad clearly needed to keep working on careless turnovers and on fi nding that killer cross. “We gave the ball away a little bit too much when we weren’t under pressure and allowed them to get out of dangerous situations and take away the pressure from them. “The more you give it back to them, they’re going to make you chase.
“We are a team that can keep the ball and now we just need to show that we can keep it in the fi nal third, which is fi nding the right pass, finding the right cross and if that’s not on, just keep building pressure and hope that something goes for you.” The Mariners now face arguably their toughest three matches of the 2016-17 season to date against Melbourne Victory (away), Melbourne City (home on New Year’s Eve) and Sydney FC (home on January 8). “Everyone is looking forward to playing those next three games,” Okon said. “We have a nine or 10- day turn around until our next game now so it’s an opportunity for us to get some work done with the players. “We will crank it up because we have two games in three days after that, then six days later, we play Sydney FC. “They are tough games but the players showed tonight that we can go right until the end and we maybe could’ve taken something at the death,” he said. In other squad news, Paul Okon reported post-match that Jacob Poscoliero, who has not been seen for several rounds in either the A-League or Mariners’ Youth League sides, was fi t and fully recovered from an earlier injury, but hadn’t been available for team selection due to illness. Okon said Jacques Fatty, who’d also been declared fi t in the days before the game against the Roar, had elected to have his fi rst start in the Youth League side to ensure he was match- fi t before stepping up for selection in the A-League squad. Brisbane Roar Coach, John Aloisi, also had some words of support for his former Socceroo roommate Paul Okon, in his post-match interview.
“I think that Paul is doing a really good job,” Aloisi said. “He has got a lot of young players as well, and he came to it a little bit late in terms of pre-season, but you can see the style of football they want to play, you can see the work that he is putting in and the structures he is putting in place. “I think he just needs to keep going, and he will. “They are a tough team to play against and they will keep getting better as well,” he said.
Transcript, Dec 18, 2016 Paul Okon, Central Coast Mariners John Aloisi, Brisbane Roar Website, Dec 19, 2016 Tyson Scott, Central Coast Mariners Jackie Pearson, journalist