It was not the result the Central Coast Mariners wanted at home in front of a crowd of 6,043, and Coach, Mike Mulvey, made it clear that he was not at all happy with the home side’s 0-3 loss against Adelaide United at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday, November 4.
Prior to the match, Mulvey described his squad as a “new club” in terms of personnel but, after the 0-3 loss to Adelaide, he said he took complete responsibility for his squad’s, at times, shambolic performance on the pitch. “There were no warning signs, it is a time for reflection, it is a time to go and have a look in the mirror and the fi rst person who does that is me, I take full responsibility,” Mulvey said in his post-match media conference.
“The main issue was that we didn’t get to grips with their central midfield, we didn’t get hold of Isaias, we were a little bit vulnerable when he got the ball and we lost the game from there, but goals change games and if you look at where they are coming from, they just won the FFA Cup, so they are a little bit buoyant,” he said. “I think we made it a little bit easy for them to get the first two goals and they became a little bit more confident, and perhaps we just went into our shell a little bit, so we need to change that.”
The clash between last year’s wooden spooners and the newly-crowned FFA Cup Champions was bound to put Mulvey’s men to the test. Post-match, Adelaide’s Coach, Marco Kurz, made it clear that winning the FFA Cup was special, but his goal was to make it to the A-League final. His confidence going into the game against the Mariners was shown by his choice of an attacking 4-5-1 formation up against a conservative 4-4-2 for the home side.
Both sides were sitting on two points before Sunday’s match, but many may have considered the Mariners’ lucky to come away with a point from their first two season 2018-19 A-League games, whereas Adelaide may have been considered unlucky not to have six points at the end of round 2. Adelaide had won its last three matches at Central Coast Stadium, in fact, they’d won seven out of their past 10 games, and were undefeated in their past four matches. Mulvey said he wanted the three points for the home side, but could they do it when Adelaide had scoring weapons like Craig Goodwin?
Running towards the palm trees in the first 45 minutes, the Mariners tried to keep possession, but Adelaide found their way through the home side’s midfield too easily. Adelaide’s scoring machine, Craig Goodwin, took full advantage of the Mariners’ early weakness with a goal at the eighth minute. Tommy Oar tried to respond with a through ball intended for Captain, Matt Simon, but it was miss-timed, and that characterised Oar’s whole 90-minute game. McGlinchy was one of the Mariner’s strongest performers on the day, consistently attempting to set up shots on goal, but the box was often full of nothing but white shirts, and this was the pink round. Adelaide striker, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, scored in the 15th minute, catching all four Mariners’ defenders missing in action, and keeper, Ben Kennedy, off his line.
Corners and free kicks gave the Coast opportunities that they were not able to maximise. Galloway and Goodwin put on an excellent display of teamwork down the visitor’s left flank that couldn’t be matched by the Mariners. The home side’s weakness throughout the first half continued to be in the midfield and defence. A free kick out of a yellow card to Stamatelopoulos and a home side corner still didn’t result in a goal for the Coast during the last 10 minutes of the fi rst half. McGlinchy and Cisse set up a chance for Simon from a corner, but he kicked it into the side of the net.
Goodwin out ran defender, Kye Rowles, again but was fortunately blown offside, so Adelaide missed out on achieving their fi rst-ever third goal away from home in a first half. The Central Coast continued to create scoring opportunities in the dying minutes of the fi rst half, but the Adelaide defence remained unbreakable. A dejected Central Coast Mariners headed to the change rooms 0-2 and defender, Anthony Golec, told the Fox Sport crew that he thought the home side’s performance was “terrible”. Mulvey’s half-time change room message was short, if not sweet, he spent most of the break on the sideline giving instructions to, Connor Pain. “At half time, I asked the lads to have a good think about what had happened in the first half and if anybody didn’t think that they could be part of a winning team in the second half, to stay in the dressing room,” Mulvey said.
“We talk about home truths and we made a little bit of a change but at the end of the day it is about performances, we have to earn the trust of the Central Coast public and we need to do that with performances on the park,” he said. Post-match he said he gave the squad time to think over what he’d had to say. Mulvey decided to substitute, Tom Hiariej, for, Andrew Hoole, at half time, on the basis that he believed the squad needed more strength in the centre midfi eld. The Coast’s performance did lift in the second half, and they only conceded one more goal, but several key players, particularly, Tommy Oar, still did not appear to be fi ring on all cylinders. A keeper error resulted in Adelaide’s Goodwin scoring his second goal of the match (and seventh in seven games) at the 55th minute.
Shortly after, the VAR failed to take any interest when Referee, Alex King, declined to give the Mariners a clear penalty for a hand ball, which could have a resulted in at least one face-saving goal for the home side. At the 70th minute, the crowd saw, Tommy Oar’s, potential, when he bounded towards goal but chose to pass back for Simon to take the shot, which missed the target again. Mulvey remained refreshingly decisive, using his final substitution to replace McGlinchy with Matt Millar’s fresh legs. Successive corners and free kicks still didn’t result in a change of luck for the Central Coast Mariners. O’Neill had a crack and missed at the 75th minute. Oar had another chance at around the 80th minute, but could not fire a shot on target. Kye Rowles had to stave off a late Adelaide shot, and the Mariners managed to retain the 0-3 score line during four minutes of extra time.
Speaking after their win, Adelaide Coach, Marco Kurz, said his side’s plan was to use the holes in the Mariners’ midfi eld and defence. “It was our plan because we know the spaces in the back four line, we trained and that was very good from our side and I am very happy,” Kurz said. “Absolutely it was a wake-up call but I didn’t see it coming,” Mulvey said of the home side’s defeat. “I thought we trained pretty well during the week, when they came off from the warm up, everyone said it was the best warm up we’d done really,” he said. “In the past this has been normal, the losing three-nil, but we can’t accept that, and I will not accept that, and as I said, I will fi x it on the training paddock and we will get a team ready to go next week.” The Central Coast Mariners go on the road for the next two rounds of the A-League, Playing Melbourne Victory on Sunday, November 11, and Perth Glory on Sunday, November 25.
Source: Match notes, Nov 4 Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United Jackie Pearson, journalist