Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Victory and Mariners battle out a goalless draw at Aurora

Photos (Top to Bottom): The Hyundai banner flutters in the centre-circle; Part of the 4,670 crowd at Aurora Stadium for the match; The teams enter the arena; The son of the late Tommy Strickland, a prominent Northern Tasmania soccer identity, is in on the toss before the match; Victory captain Kevin Muscat and Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson shake hands; Kevin Muscat has a word with the late Tommy Strickland's son; Strickland junior rejoins his family; Victory's Roddy Vargas gets in a clearing header; Mariners on the attack; The Mariners back-four defend in line; Grant Brebner and Surat Sukha try to unbalance the Mariners' defence; Melbourne's Adrian Leijer is shown the yellow card by Mr Docherty; Adrian Leijer outjumps the Mariners' Matt Simon; Adam Kwasnik heads home for the Mariners, but the assistant referee's flag is raised for off-side; Melbourne Victory's football manager, Gary Cole, tries to have a word with Mr Docherty at half-time; A smiling Victory coach, Ernie Merrick; Mariners' captain Alex Wilkinson; Mariners' coach, Graham Arnold thought it was a good match; Victory's Thailand international Surat Sukha had to go off because of a hamstring tweak [PlessPix]

A-League Friendly (Aurora Stadium, Launceston, Sunday, 25 July 2010)


Melbourne Victory 0

Central Coast Mariners 0

Att: 4,670 Ref: K Docherty

Melbourne Victory: Petkovic (Mattei 75) - Leijer, Muscat (Franjic 75), Vargas, Berger (Foschini 46) - Sukha (Ferreira 32), Brebner (Ward 71), Broxham (Celeski 65), Kruse - Dugandzic (Angulo 63), Pondeljak[Coach: Ernie Merrick]

Central Coast Mariners: Van Strattan - Porter, Wilkinson, Zwaanswijk, Rose - McGlinchey, Hutchinson, Bozanic (Lewis 80) - Perez (Mrdja 71), Simon, Kwasnik (McBreen 46) [Substitutes not used: Griffiths, Doig, Ryan] [Coach: Graham Arnold]


Melbourne Victory should have taken the lead after a mere 4 minutes when Mate Dugandzic put Tommy Pondeljak through for a one-on-one with the keeper, but the agile Jess Van Strattan saved with an outstretched hand and conceded a fruitless corner.

Four minutes later, Victory’s Leigh Broxham brought a gasp from the crowd as he flashed a long-range free-kick just wide of Van Strattan’s right-hand post.

It was all Victory for most of the first half. They played some neat inter-passing football in midfield but lacked penetration up front.

In the 25th minute, fullback Evan Berger fired a long-range effort straight at Van Strattan.

Van Strattan again showed his class when, in the 29th minute, he foiled Dugandzic as he threatened to break the deadlock.

Victory’s Thailand international Surat Sukha was replaced after only 32 minutes. Coach Ernie Merrick had asked him to play the first half and test his hamstrings, but Sukha felt tightness and thought it best to go off.

The Mariners thought they had taken the lead 5 minutes before the interval when Adam Kwasnik headed home a Patricio Perez free-kick, but Miss Hanna Manuela’s flag was raised for off-side.

The Mariners had a much better second half and in the 56th minute Perez found Matt Simon with a pass but the striker’s shot was miscued and it flew wide for a goal-kick.

They went close in the 61st minute when central defender Patrick Zwaanswijk picked out substitute Daniel McBreen, but Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic, called into action for the first time, just managed to scoop the ball up in time at McBreen’s feet.

A flurry of substitutions midway through the second half disrupted the flow of play somewhat, but in the 74th minute a great free-kick by substitute Billy Celeski found Pondeljak, who forced yet another save from Van Strattan and a fruitless corner.

Fifteen minutes from the end, Petkovic made way for substitute keeper Sebastian Mattei as Victory made their seventh substitution of the match.

Victory regained the initiative in the closing ten minutes and, in the 82nd minute, Pondeljak should have done better than shoot high over the bar from Celeski’s astute pass.

With 4 minutes remaining, McBreen wasted a chance for the Mariners as he blazed high and wide from an acute angle on the left.

A minute from the end, Robbie Kruse laid the ball off from the left for Nick Ward, but the substitute shot high over the bar.

The last chance fell to Victory in stoppage time, but Marvin Angulo almost hit the top of the floodlights with a skied shot.


· Melbourne Victory coach, Ernie Merrick, said:

“We got a lot out of the game.

“I thought it was a good-quality game and it’s a credit to the Mariners that they played open football as well. They played with three strikers and we played with two-and-a-half. We tried to get someone to come through from midfield quite a lot, Tommy Pondeljak.

“So, there was some good interplay. The only thing that didn’t happen, which every game needs, is goals.

“Towards the end of the game, I thought that some of our youngsters created some really good chances.

“What impressed me most about our boys was our defending was rock solid, and our inter-passing in midfield was back to where it should be.

“It’s just that final strike on target that we need to work on. We’re a bit light on for strikers.

· Central Coast Mariners coach, Graham Arnold, said:

“It was a good game. It’s always good to gauge ourselves against one of the best teams in the league and probably the most successful team in the history of the A-League at the moment.

“I think we learned a few lessons, but overall, I was very happy.

“I thought in the first half we were too deep. The space between the midfield and defence was far too deep and gave Melbourne too much room to play.

“In the second half, that improved enormously and we pretty much didn’t give them many chances until the last five minutes.”

· Central Coast captain, Alex Wilkinson, said:

“It was a friendly a couple of weeks from the season so it was good first and foremost to get fitness out of us, for both us and Victory.

“For the first half, we were probably stretched out a bit as a team. We let them have too much possession in midfield, I thought.

“We tried to rectify that in the second half and we played a tighter and more compact game and we probably had a few more chances as well.

“All in all, it was a good hit-out.”

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