The Central Coast Mariners have extended their winning record over Adelaide to 9 straight games as they beat the Reds 1-0 at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday evening.
Graham Arnold wanted a reaction from his players after last week’s unimpressive performance against Melbourne Heart and he didn’t have to wait long to get it.
Just over a minute in a great finish from Nick Fitzgerald would see the cannon fire and the Mariners go ahead.
The score wouldn’t change with the early goal enough to see the Arnold’s men claim their first 3 points of the new season.
Both sides struggled to maintain complete control of possession, with the Mariners high press forcing the Reds defenders to work hard to get the ball out of their own half. However when they did, they were able to pressure the Mariners and create goal scoring opportunities of their own.
The home side could have killed the game off before half time with a number of chances falling as Fitzgerald, Duke, McGlinchey, and Flores caused plenty of headaches for the Reds defence.
Mile Sterjovski and Matt Simon were introduced in the second half to continue the forward pressure, and it would be the latter that should have had the Mariners second.
A well struck volley from Sterjovski hit the left post only for the follow up from Simon to be hit in to the cross bar.
A late attempt from new recruit Sergio Cirio would be the closest the Reds would come to an equaliser. The Spaniard was able to beat a number Mariners players on the edge of the 18 yard box to only see his shot deflected away.
Post match Arnold was happy with his side’s performance despite not being able to put more opportunities away.
“There’s a lot of promising things, I’m always happy when you make chances. We had enough chances to win three games tonight.” Arnold said.
“The boys stuck to the defensive structure and stuck to the game plan, they showed good character even though we were missing chance after chance.”
Season 9 see’s the Mariners open their first three games with five points which is the best result under Graham Arnold, a fact that isn’t lost on the coach.
“This is best start that we’ve had in the time I’ve been at the club, we normally start slow and we’re probably at fifty percent of where we will be in another four to five weeks.”
“We want to be hitting our straps a few more rounds in.” Arnold added.
The Central Coast now head to Hunter Stadium to take on bitter rivals Newcastle Jets who currently sit in last spot on the A-League ladder.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Fitzgerald 2’)
Adelaide United 0
Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Referee: Peter Green