New recruit Marcos Flores would score two second half penalties to cancel out a David Williams double ensuring the Mariners earnt a draw against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
Graham Arnold went with a changed line-up to face the Heart with Marcel Seip replacing Zac Anderson in central defence, while Mitchell Duke and Mile Sterjovski partnered up front, with a diamond formation through the midfield.
Early on the Mariners struggled defensively with poor clearances creating opportunities for the Heart’s front men; however none found the back of the net.
Both sides were unable to get into any type of rhythm during the first half, despite this both teams had chances at either end to go into half time in front. Trent Sainsbury had the best chance from a corner when his looping header over Andrew Redmayne hit the cross bar.
Almost immediately down the other end, the Heart faithful were cheering as they thought they had their opening goal. Unfortunately, for them it wasn’t to be, as Iain Ramsey’s strike hit the side netting.
Unhappy with his team’s first half performance, Arnold used the break to give his players ‘a blast’ in the hope of turning their effort around.
“It was a very disappointing first half of football,” Arnold said.
While the first half was poor, the second half ensured the 8,734 fans that made their way to AAMI Park did not leave disappointed.
Despite Arnold’s rev up it would be the home side that would open the scoring in the 52nd minute with David Williams pouncing on a Justin Pasfield error.
A powerful shot from outside the box by Golgol Mebrahtu was parried by Pasfield which created an easy chance for Williams to capitalise on.
Clearly frustrated, Arnold would be further annoyed 8 minutes later with the home side, again through Williams, doubling the Heart’s advantage.
Not many would have predicted what would transpire in the next 30 minutes with two penalties to the Mariners allowing them to gain a point and head back to the Coast content.
In the 70th minute referee Ben Williams pointed to the spot after he determined Patrick Kisnorbo had infringed Matt Simon. Marcos Flores calmly stepped up and put home the Mariners’s first.
The Argentinean would be called upon again 5 minutes later when Patrick Gerhardt handled the ball inside the box. Flores would slot the second spot-kick earning the Mariners their second point of season 9.
Post game Arnold was clearly content his side had escaped with a draw.
“The main thing we take from the game is that we showed some great fighting spirit to come back to two-all. After that, we had half chances to win the game, as did Heart.” Arnold said.
“We have to go home happy with a point, but we’ll need to keep working hard to ensure we find our rhythm over the coming rounds.”
The Mariner’s now face second placed Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.