Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tasmania's plucky performance limits Mariners to three late goals

Photos (Top to Bottom): Mariners coach Graham Arnold...played at KGV with the Socceroos in the early 1980s; Tasmania coach Steve Payne...said Tasmania's performance was fantastic; Tasmania and Clarence striker Ben to the USA today to take up a soccer scholarship; The two teams prepare for kick-off as youngsters who accompanied the Mariners onto the pitch troop off; The Tasmanians in a huddle; The captains at the toss; Part of the crowd at KGV Park; Kick-off is nigh; Tasmania prepare psychologically for the match; The small-side games provided the half-time entertainment; The young players leave the field after their half-time entertainment of the fans [PlessPix]

Pre-season Friendly (KGV Park, Tuesday, 27 July 2010)


Tasmania 0

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Simon 76, Bozanic 80, Kwasnik 90+2)

HT: 0-0 Att: 1768 Ref: L Laverdure (Victoria)

Tasmania: Pitchford (Kruijver 46) - Pennicott, Iseli, W Abbott, Scott - B Eaves (Roach 46), Marchioli - Brennan (Lo 46), Mann (D Brown 46), Kanakaris - McKenna (Hamlett 60)

Central Coast Mariners: Ryan - Bojic, Griffiths, Wilkinson, Bozanic - Hutchinson, McGlinchey (Porter 78), Lewis (Rose 60) - Mrdja (Kwasnik 68), Perez (Simon 65), McBreen


It was like being in Europe again, where football is king. The KGV Park pitch was looking like a football pitch should, and the crowd was excellent. To see spectators all around the perimeter of the pitch and up on the hill at the Glenorchy end of the ground was heart-warming to say the least. Perhaps the official attendance figure was too low, but it certainly matched those of Sunderland’s visit to KGV Park in 1976, and that of the Socceroos at the same venue in the early 1980s.

It was a good night for Tasmanian football. Our team was not disgraced and, with a little more composure inside the box, might even have embarrassed the visitors. Imagine what longer preparation and a few other inclusions may have done.

We certainly lacked the technique of the Mariners, and their passing was crisper and more accurate. But there are other factors to the game and Tasmania lacked nothing in terms of commitment and desire. Tasmania were not overawed and they could hold their heads high at the end. For 76 minutes the home side kept the visitors scoreless, both through good play and good fortune.

When the Mariners brought on their big guns - strikers Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik - it was evident that they meant business and were tired of being frustrated by the minnows of the island State. With Tasmania tiring, it was just a matter of time before the deadlock was broken and it was Simon and Kwasnik who ultimately brought about the home side’s downfall. They scored a goal apiece and played a huge part in the other goal.

Tasmania almost shocked their opponents in the opening minutes. Andy Brennan found himself in possession with only the goalkeeper to beat but blazed high over the bar. Imagine what a goal at that early stage would have done.

Patricio Perez was pulling the strings for the Mariners in his role just behind the front two of Daniel McBreen and Nik Mrdja and it was he who had their first chance in the 8th minute. His fierce shot was turned onto the woodwork and out for a corner by Tasmania’s goalkeeper, Nathan Pitchford.

The Mariners also went close to scoring in the 10th minute when it required a timely block by Liam Scott to save the situation, after which a Matthew Lewis shot was deflected wide for yet another corner. The Mariners were winning corner after corner at this stage, which indicated the pressure they were applying on the home side.

In the 17th minute, Pitchford was at full stretch diving to his right, but Perez’s shot was always going wide.

The Mariners were using both fullbacks as wide attackers and, in the 23rd minute, Pedj Bojic was released down the right and his cross found Daniel McBreen, but Pitchford denied the striker with a block and conceded yet another corner.

Three minutes before the break, Tasmania had their second chance when Kostas Kanakaris’s low drive almost got a touch from Brennan and the ball was deflected wide for a corner, much to the relief of the Mariners’ defenders.

It was to Tasmania’s credit that the first half ended in a goalless stalemate and they received a standing ovation from the home fans as they trooped off. They had not created much in attack, but they had maintained their composure and poise and had fought tooth and nail to deny their opponents a goal.

Tasmania made four changes at the interval, bringing on Sam Kruijver for Pitchford, and replacing Brennan, Brayden Mann and Bobby Eaves with Jonathon Lo, Tom Roach and Daniel Brown. This meant there were now seven South Hobart players on the pitch and one could expect a little more team-work and understanding from players who had been together all year.

Five minutes into the second half, it almost paid off as Roach delivered a long ball into the box which deceived Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Scott found himself in possession and past the keeper, but his tame shot was blocked by the retreating Bojic, who tumbled backwards as he cleared the ball. One was left to ponder on the fact that if Brennan and Scott had taken their chances, the Mariners would have been 2-0 down.

Three minutes later, Mrdja produced an amazing turn and smashed a shot against the Tasmanian crossbar, the ball rebounding into play and focusing the home side’s attention once again on reality and the task at hand.

The introduction of Simon and Kwasnik midway through the half stacked the odds heavily against Tasmania, who brought captain Chris McKenna off and threw on the speedy Ben Hamlett.

Within minutes, however, the Mariners were in front. In the 76th minute, Scott gave the ball away on the half-way line and Bojic gained possession. He fed McBreen, who flicked the ball on for Simon to run at goal and chip the advancing Kruijver from the edge of the box to put the Mariners 1-0 up.

A minute later, Kruijver did well to save a shot from Kwasnik as the Mariners piled on the pressure.

With 10 minutes remaining, substitute Brad Porter released Oliver Bozanic down the left and, although Kruijver blocked his initial shot, Bozanic was first to the rebound and netted clinically to make it 2-0.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Simon’s long pin-point diagonal pass to the left found McBreen, whose cross into the box was nodded home by Kwasnik to complete the scoring.

Victorian referee Lucien Laverdure, who flew over for the match in the afternoon, produced an excellent performance, ably assisted by locals Michael Thain and Simon Natoli. Laverdure was unobtrusive and calm, clear in his directions, and epitomised the saying that the best referee is one who is barely noticed. Both teams also made his job so much easier by playing clean and fair football.

The night was a credit to Football Federation Tasmania, both sets of players, supporters and sponsors, and the Central Coast Mariners club. Football truly was the winner.


· Tasmania coach, Steve Payne, said:

“I thought it was a fantastic performance by the Tasmanian team.

“If you think that the Central Coast Mariners didn’t score until the last 15 minutes, I thought we played a fantastic game.

“Our defence was very good, we kept the ball on the ground, we were playing it around at the back, we were playing good football, we were trying to play it forward, we were obviously up against professional players who have played eight games and we got these boys together in 10 days and had two training sessions which weren’t really training sessions but more like selection camps, and I think for them to go out and perform in the way they did was fantastic.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them.

“I mean, we might even have scored in the first couple of minutes, and there was a few other half-chances.

“But, I think in the last 15 minutes, you saw the difference, you know, between a team that’s playing in one division and another team that’s playing at a professional level. Their speed didn’t change in the last 15 minutes and we started to tire out a bit.

“I think it’s fantastic. The crowd was great, the atmosphere was good, and the boys were pleased as punch. Everybody was up for the game and I think we did ourselves proud and I think we proved we’ve got good players in Tasmania and things can happen down here if we go in the right direction and I think tonight was the right direction. Six weeks together, and I think we can take them on again no problems.”

· Central Coast Mariners coach, Graham Arnold, said:

“The first half was very sloppy, but I expected that after the Melbourne Victory [game] on Sunday. Forty-eight hours after a game is normally when players are most likely to be flat.

“So, we made quite a few changes, but we expected that in the first half, but you would have hoped it wouldn’t have been so sloppy. You know, quite casual [and] passing was off.

“But, overall, it was a good hit-out. We got some combinations going and that’s why it’s good to play games because, as I said to you the other day, we’ve got six or seven new players in the team and it’s good to play games rather than train.

“[The Tasmanians] put up a very good show. Some good young boys there. I think that, overall, they can be very proud of their performance. If anything, probably our fitness ran over the top of them because we’ve been training for a long while. On the other side of the coin, I think that our boys, you know, it’s been a pretty long pre-season and they just want a good start to the A-League and they’re looking after themselves and being careful with no injuries and that. But, the Tasmanians can be very proud of their performance.

“Perez [who went off in the 65th minute] is okay. We’ve worked him hard and he played his first game for us against Melbourne the other day for over 70 minutes, so he pushed himself to the limit there. He wanted to play tonight as far as he could. It was only a slight cramp, but he’s fine. He’s going to be an exciting player for the A-League.

“Matt Simon and Kwasnik have got good mobility and good movement. Simon played a little deeper and he can be a handful.

“In the last 20 minutes I thought, at times, we played a little too negatively and the ball was going backwards a lot of times when you can play it forward, and I don’t mean by thumping it long. The option in transition is to play it short and play it forward and to try and catch the other team on the break.”


Roy said...

Very well spoken by Mr Arnold in this interview. Gave credit where it was due and was both positive and negative on his own teams performance backed up with examples. Just what you want from your manager, always room for improvement. ;)

Can I just say a big well done to the Tassie lads, Disappointed I wasn't able to attend but I had too work. I have heard only good things.

Brian Roberts said...

To the FFT Board , my congratulations on securing the match versus the mariners

To the ground staff my congratulations . The first impression I received on entering KG V was of a real football ground , well prepared and tended.

To the Support staff my congratulations on a well run and presented evening.

To the Coach and team . My special congratulations on a great effort .

I have been attending representative games since 1951 . This was the fittest and most technicaly skilled representative side I have seen .

The moreso bearing in mind the age and experience of the players.

Again my congratulations .

Brian Roberts.

Anonymous said...

Brian, it's interseting to read your comment on the technical ability of the team last night. As someone who is no longer in the state I read plenty on the blogs in the lead up to the game about how young and inexperienced the selected side was and how there were a number of better players not selected. It's gret to hear that these young players performed so admirably. Maybe the changes in player development processes and coaching culture in Tassie are haing an effect on the young players coming through. Well done to all concerned.


Anonymous said...

feedback from the more prominent players is negative towards payne as coach, seems his journalism has taught him to talk the talk but his walking leaves a bit to be desired although he did teach the tassie players to park the bus........ almost

Anonymous said...


I think that any of the State Team's in the 90's would beat the team we put out by the same margin CC did. Atleast back then we had players of attacking quality.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering why two players played in both the U/20's and the senior state side ??

Anonymous said...

because 2 of the best players in the state are under 20, SO they are eligable for both. Not hard.

Anonymous said...

IMO Liam Scott and Will Abbott were Tassie's best players. It would be great to see them make the transition to the A-league. Pitchford looked good in goals, it's unfortunate he isn't a little taller. Also noticed a few nice skills shown by Kosta Kanakaris.

I liked the look of Perez for Central Coast. His signing, for me, shows the new direction they are headed with Graham Arnold in charge. I also thought 21 year old Oliver Bozanic looked a fine acquisition for the Mariners.

I hope there will be more games like this one in the future. It would be even better if an A-league club played in Tassie on a regular basis.

I really enjoyed the game!

Anonymous said...

agreed Bozanic had some very good skill and great vision.

Anonymous said...

so a player who played 2 games in 4 days would be better than anyone else who has a full week rest

Anonymous said...

Mann, Abbott, Brennan, Scott all played both games.

The bigger Q is why Hamlett played for State but not U20s.

Pennicott did this also but with Scott and Brennan also playing U20s there wasn't room for all 3 within the rules of selection.

Another good Q is why Sam McIntyre and Sam Hughes didn't play for Tassie. Those 2 are easily the best of the young players

roundball said...

Anon 6:18

You sure south had three reps in the u/20 team? Thought the criteria was two from each club.
I only saw Brennan and Scott playing on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Roundball, read the comment properly

Anonymous said...

Pennicott did this also ...
played for State but not U20s.

roundball said...

yeah sorry and NOW understood