Mariners feel the heat as Perth Glory prevails

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It may be autumn in Western Australia but the heat hasn’t gone away as Perth Glory overcame difficult conditions to claim a 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners. 

The mercury pushed 40 degrees at nib Stadium and the visitors certainly felt the heat, to the point where their request to delay the kick off by an hour was declined.

Shed or sauna?

Travis Dodd opened the scoring for Glory after 25 minutes and it’s a goal that Mariners ‘keeper Mat Ryan won’t want to see again.

The youngster, who recently made the Socceroos squad for the first time, dropped a deflected Todd Howarth cross inside the six-yard box and Dodd was on hand to gratefully tap home.

Chances were few and far between as the game was played at a very pedestrian pace in the first half.

Oliver Bozanic and Josh Rose tried their luck with shots from inside the area but neither troubled Danny Vukovic in the Glory goal.

Dodd came close to his second right on the stroke of half time but his low left footed strike was well saved by Ryan.

Both sides suffered injury blows in the second half with Glory skipper Jacob Burns and Mariners striker Bernie Ibini coming off.

The second half was a much more interesting affair and it was the Mariners who came closest to finding the net through Daniel McBreen’s free header but Josh Risdon was on hand to superbly clear off the line.

Shane Smeltz could have made the points safe with a minute of normal time remaining but shot straight at Ryan when released by Andrezinho.

A combination of drinks breaks and the injury to Burns meant a nervous six minutes of injury time, however the hosts managed to hold out.

The win sent the majority of the 6502 spectators home happy as it guarantees Glory just their second finals appearance since the A-League’s inception.  

How they lined up 

With Liam Miller still injured and Adam Hughes recently departed, Steve Pantelidis stepped into Glory’s midfield three with Josh Mitchell returning at centre-half alongside Bas Van den Brink.

The Mariners have two of the league’s best attacking full backs in Pedj Bojic and Josh Rose so Todd Howarth was preferred to Andrezinho in the Perth starting eleven.

When Jacob Burns left the field injured in the second half, Shane Smeltz joined Billy Mehmet up front as Ian Ferguson switched to a 4-4-2.

After playing in the Asian Champions League midweek, Graham Arnold’s side were understandably tired but still adopted their usual midfield diamond with veteran Daniel McBreen partnering Bernie Ibini.

Beaten by a clanger

Mat Ryan has been superb for the Mariners since coming into the Central Coast first team but the deciding goal came from a clanger of the highest order as he dropped a deflected Todd Howarth cross into the six-yard box where Dodd was waiting.

Even though it ultimately proved to be the winner, the fact that it’s Ryan’s only real mistake of significance in more than 18 months of first team football speaks volumes for the young ‘keeper.  

Post Match Reaction

Ian Ferguson was understandably delighted with his team’s effort and they now boast the highest points tally of any Glory side in the A-League era.

“It’s been a fantastic achievement for the boys this year to get there (finals),” he said.

“That was the clubs target and I thought that it was realistic, and I’m proud of every one of them today.

“It was a very tough game and tough conditions and to get the win, obviously it was a mistake from the goalkeeper, you take them.”

Mariners boss Graham Arnold and skipper Alex Wilkinson were less than impressed with the decision to let the game kick off at 4.30pm WST, and called on the PFA to intervene if similar conditions arise in the future.

“One doctor said the match should’ve been delayed, the other doctor said that it needs to be played,” said Arnold.

“For me, I just want some sense. It’s crazy playing football in those conditions.

“I just worry about the players’ welfare and maybe the PFA need to look at that.”

Wilkinson echoed those sentiments, saying it isn’t acceptable to put convenient kick off times ahead of players’ health.

“It’s ridiculous; why if we’re the last game on a Sunday do we need to kick off at 4 o’clock?” he said.

“Why can’t we kick off at 7? I know it’s for the eastern states and it’s going to be late but who cares? They have got to come first.”

Arnold also confirmed that striker Bernie Ibini suffered a twisted knee and will be withdrawn from this week’s Olyroos squad.

The Fallout

Drinks breaks were needed at nib Stadium

Glory’s win means that they are guaranteed a finals spot with just two games remaining, and a win over either Gold Coast United or Melbourne Victory should be enough for a home final.

The Mariners, meanwhile, remain on top after Brisbane Roar could only draw at home to Adelaide United, but the gap is now down to just two points. 

Teams

Perth Glory: 1. Danny Vukovic, 2. Josh Mitchell, 3. Sebastien Van den Brink, 4. Billy Mehmet, 5. Steve Pantelidis, 7. Jacob Burns, 13. Travis Dodd, 14. Steven McGarry, 17. Todd Howarth, 19. Josh Risdon, 35. Dean Heffernan.

Subs: 20. Neil Young, 9. Shane Smeltz, 26. Brandon O’Neill, Andrezinho.  

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Matthew Ryan, 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson, 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 17. Thomas Rogic, 18. Alex Wilkinson.

Subs: 20. Justin Pasfield, 12. Troy Hearfield, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 23. Adam Kwasnik.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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