Nothing could separate Phil Moss’ Mariners and Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne as Central Coast and Victory played out a 0-0 stalemate at Gosford’s Bluetongue Stadium on Friday evening.
The Hyundai A-League 2013/14 encounter featured plenty of players capable of lighting up the opening match of round 8 of this season’s competition, however some dominant defending and wayward finishing ensured the scoreboard attendant at the Mariners’ idyllic bayside base wasn’t troubled on what was a sodden seaside night.
The Mariners started the match with intent and it was new New Zealand international Storm Roux who created the first real opening of the clash. In the seventh minute Roux burst down the right before angling in on goal, only to see his strike fly over Nathan Coe’s woodwork.
Though Roux couldn’t trouble Coe on that occasion, the former SønderjyskE custodian was forced into action in the 18th minute via the head of one of his former teammates, Marcos Flores. Michael McGlinchey lifted a free kick at goal with Flores nodding the ball on. With the ball destined for the net Coe reacted smartly to move to his left and push the ball to safety.
While the Mariners went closest to scoring in the first part of the first half, Victory enjoyed dominance towards the end of the first 45. Enterprising attacker James Troisi had a shot from close range blocked by Brent Griffiths 34 minutes in, while Melbourne skipper Mark Milligan fired a powerful strike from the edge of the area wide eight minutes later. Sooner after, Milligan saw another of his shots cannon off the crossbar.
Unfortunately for the supporters neither side would manage to hit top gear in the second stanza either, nor do enough to break the deadlock to claim all three Hyundai A-League points.
The brightest moment for the home team came 20 minutes after the restart when Roux sent a sweet ball into the box which McGlinchey met on the volley. The All Whites’ duo would likely have combined for a quite stunning goal if only McGlinchey’s shot hadn’t struck the legs of Victory defender Jason Geria as the ball flew towards the net.
Liam Reddy has been impressive in his three Hyundai A-League matches for the Mariners thus far, and ten minutes from time produced a solid save to ensure the scores remained level in Gosford. Melbourne substitute Guilherme Finkler side-footed a crisp effort at goal, and despite not having full vision of the ball from the moment Finkler connected with the ball, Reddy dropped swiftly to his left and stuck out a glove to deny the Brazilian ace.
Late in the game Mariners substitute Daniel McBreen thought he may be able to secure a late winner for his team, only to be ruled marginally offside as he sped towards goal.
Following the contest Central Coast Mariners Head Coach, Phil Moss, admitted his team hadn’t performed at their best, however said there were still positives he, his staff, and his team could take from the encounter.
“We set some objectives before the game obviously and we ticked a lot of those boxes,” Moss said. “(But) there’s some that we didn’t. We can be more positive with the ball – a bit braver playing forward. Our defensive structure I thought for the most part was quite good.”
“We had our own chances and I thought when we played the way we like to play and brought our fullbacks into the game we caused them some problems. We certainly can be better.”
“I thought our execution about getting the ball into the top third was a little bit off tonight. (But) the will to win the game and press on even when we had tired legs (was good). I thought the fighting spirit towards the end was fantastic against a quality side,” he said.
Central Coast Mariners will now enjoy an eight-day break before their next match against Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday 7 December, 2013. The lengthy lead-in to the Club’s next Hyundai A-League 2013/14 fixture will provide Moss ample time to fine-tune his team for the game against the Sky Blues.
“We’ve now got eight days to freshen them up and really get our preparation spot on for Sydney FC,” Moss concluded.
Central Coast Mariners 0
Melbourne Victory 0
Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners: 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Marcos FLORES (21. Mile STERJOVSKJI 85’), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Anthony CACERES (8. Nick MONTGOMERY 73’), 19. Matt SIMON (2. Daniel MCBREEN 61’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 4. Marcel SEIP
Yellow cards: Griffiths, Simon, Sainsbury, McBreen
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory: 1. Nathan COE (Gk), 2. Pablo CONTRERAS, 3. Adama TRAORE, 4. Nicholas ANSELL, 5. Mark MILLIGAN (C), 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10. Archie THOMPSON (7. Guilherme FINKLER 74’), 14. James TROISI, 15. Mitchell NICHOLS (11. Connor PAIN 66’), 16. Rashid MAHAZI,
Substitutes not used: 17. James JEGGO, 20. Lawrence THOMAS (Gk), 24. Scott GALLOWAY
Yellow cards: Traore, Milligan, Contreras
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones