Central Coast Mariners get sweet redemption

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Brisbane Roar were bumped out of top spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder on Saturday night, defeated 2-1 by the Mariners at Suncorp Stadium.


After conceding two goals before half-time, Brisbane had a big hill to climb if they were to stage a miraculous comeback against the in-form Mariners in the Grand Final re-match.

Mustafa Amini opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes when he capitalised on a poor pass from Roar ‘keeper, Michael Theoklitos. Pedj Bojic then doubled the lead with a brilliant individual effort just before half-time.

To make matters worse for the injury stricken Brisbane outfit, left back, Shane Stefanutto, was admitted to hospital complaining of blurry vision toward the end of the first half.


Second half substitute, Kofi Danning, grabbed his first goal in orange and black colours, and pegged one back for the home side with a wicked deflected shot.

However, despite dominating the second half, as they’ve done in the past few weeks, Brisbane fell short of a dramatic come-from-behind draw, the Mariners condemning the home side to their fourth straight loss in 14 days.


While they were unable to find an equaliser, the signs were encouraging for Brisbane, the second half indicating that they are getting back to their best.

Pedj Bojic admitted after the game that Brisbane certainly had the Mariners sweating, with flashbacks of the Grand Final present in their minds.


“It kind of went through my head a bit. I think it was in the 89th minute and I was marking Paartalu [before a corner kick]. So I was extra careful to make sure he didn’t get on the end of it!” Bojic said.


Just a few weeks ago, pundits were singing the praises of the entertaining style Brisbane brought to the A-league. Sitting high up the pitch, playing possession football, and finishing strongly in the forward third made them invincible. But with key players out, Brisbane have struggled to execute as well as they have in the past. Teams have slowly learned to counteract Brisbane and hurt them on the counter, with some clinical finishing bringing the defending Hyundai A-League champions undone in recent weeks.

However, despite the string of losses Brisbane coach, Ange Postecoglou, had one clear message for fans and media – they will not change their style of play.

“I don’t expect people to agree with what I say and what I do, but I’m not unhappy,” Postecoglou said.

“I mean we’ve had 14 bad days. I’ve had head colds that lasted longer than that, so I’m hardly going to rip things apart that we’ve built for eighteen months.

“Because then they [the players] are going to say to me well why have you made us go through this? We’re not going to do that.

“We’ll keep playing it out of the back and we’ll keep copping goals. And you know people want us to change and do things differently, but we won’t.”

With Thomas Broich, Henrique, James Meyer and captain Matt Smith all on Brisbane’s injured list, and Postecoglou admitting that Mitch Nichols and Besart Berisha haven’t been at their best, times are tough at Brisbane.

“Physically it’s been pretty punishing,” Postecoglou said.

“We just had four games in 14 days, unfortunately with 15 or 16 fit players. That’s going to take its toll.”

Taking responsibility for their recent spate of misfortune, the man who led them to 36-straight undefeated games was proud of his makeshift team’s second half display and was adamant that they are not far off a win.

“Playing against the top side in the comp at the moment, it would have been very easy for us to lie down, but I thought it was an unbelievable effort that the whole group managed that sort of performance for 45 minutes,” Postecoglou said.

“We had enough possession we just couldn’t break the lines.”

In contrast Graham Arnold’s men did everything right on the night, taking their chances to put Brisbane to the sword.

“I‘m very, very proud of the boys, their character, and the effort they put in,” Arnold said.

“If there was any scar tissue from the Grand Final, it’s gone.

“We’re scoring goals, we’re fit, we’re working hard, the players are confident obviously, and it’s great to see the character and the attitude that they know they can do better.”

Despite the win, Arnold was concerned with his side’s second half display that put a draw within Brisbane’s sight.

“I said to the boys in the dressing room, I don’t want to play like that. I don’t want to see them play to the scoreboard, and continue to play the match,” he said.

Having knocked Brisbane off top spot in the standings, Arnold refused to gloat over the result or rule out Brisbane as title contenders.


“I don’t look at the table. It’s Round 11, you don’t win the trophy in December,” he said.

“I thought they [Brisbane] were very good tonight and when they get Thomas Broich back and their bigger players, they’ll be up there again.”

In their next A-League fixture, Brisbane will hope to make up some numbers and rotate the squad before their Boxing Day derby with Queensland rivals Gold Coast United. Though Bleiberg’s team are dwelling at the bottom of the ladder, Gold Coast have managed to find some form and will look to exploit Brisbane’s low confidence.

The win against Brisbane has set up the Mariners for a potential five or six point buffer ahead of the pack when they line up against Perth Glory on Friday. A win should give the Mariners the nod as Championship favourites heading into the New Year.


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