Christmas spirit still in air with riveting 3-3 draw at Gosford

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Both the Central Coast Mariners and the Brisbane Roar have struggled this season, but Santa certainly seems to have come to town, gifting both teams with the ability to finally score goals.

It was a game of endless elation and frustration, with goal after goal being scored at both ends of the pitch, making the final score 3-3.

The Mariners conceded first, with the goal coming courtesy of the Roar’s Jean Carlos Solorzano – his first goal in three years (can anyone say MERRY CHRISTMAS?!?).

The festive cheer continued into the break, with an on-air proposal (she said yes!) lifting the mood in Bluetongue Stadium.

Although conceding a goal in the last minute of play is a common event in their defensive history, the Mariners were able to bounce back from the blow, responding to the Roar with rare determination.

Indeed, the second half featured five goals; the first coming in the form of a header from Eddy Bosnar in the 56th minute, followed by Matt Simon in the 63rd minute, then another header from James Donachie in the 64th minute to equalise, a deflection put away by Seung Yong Kim in the 80th for the lead, and finally, the game came full circle with the final equalizer scored off the top of Solorzano’s head in the 82nd minute.

Although Brisbane had a higher rate of possession statistically, the match looked fairly even. Both teams created chances, and gave chances away. The game was an exhibition of attack and counter-attack, and the players had it down to an art.

In fairness, the Mariners could have done better defensively at home, with Brisbane swiftly responding to each of their goals with one of their own.

“One of the key areas that we’ve been focusing on has been concentration and we let ourselves down in that department…but a lot of positives have come out of today, we played our part in an exciting match,” Moss said.

Defensively, the Mariners are without left back Michael Neill, who received a foot injury in last weeks’ disappointing 4-1 loss against Perth.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed that it’s not too long term but certainly he’s a loss because he’s been playing very well and injected a lot of good things from left back both defensively and offensively,” Moss said.

The second half started with controversy, this time for Brisbane, when James Donachie was booked for (intentionally or not) passing the ball back to his keeper, Jamie Young.

The penalty was taken at such close range that the likelihood of scoring was slim at best. Not to fear, the equalizer came minutes after, with a beautifully placed cross from Anthony Caceres finding Bosnar’s head in the 56th minute.

Nick Fitzgerald used the momentum created to push forward, but was denied by the Roar’s keeper, who was by now somewhat of an annoyance to the Mariners.

The second goal came in the 63rd minute after a bit of a scramble in front of goal, with Young deflecting the Mariners shots not once, but twice, only to succumb to a goal from Matt Simon on the third attempt.

“Matty Simon up front, what can I say…four goals in five games. He’s been getting through full 90 minutes somehow, and its because he wears his heart on his sleeve and bleeds for this club,” Moss said.

The lead wasn’t to last though, with James Donachie redeeming himself with an excellent header in the 64th minute, which went just past the reach of Liam Reddy, possibly deflected off Storm Roux’s shoulder.

The return of Seung Yong Kim to the pitch was met with fireworks, when he followed up a deflected shot from Matt Simon with his own, making it 3-2 for the Mariners in the 80th minute. He celebrated by ripping his shirt off, and was subsequently booked.

Brisbane answered the Mariners only one minute after, with a goal of their own, headed into the back of the net once more by Solorzano.

Brisbane Roar coach Frans Thijssen said the goals were only a positive for his players, but that defensively he also felt his team could have performed better.

“Overall, I think it’s a fair result,” he said.

The Mariners will come away from today will plenty of positives, looking forward to playing the Western Sydney Wanderers on New Years day.

Central Coast Mariners starting XI: 2.Storm Roux 3.Joshua Rose 5.Zac Anderson 7. John Hutchinson (C) 10. Anthony Caceres 11. Nick Fitzgerald 12. Liam Reddy (GK) 15. Matthew Sim 18. Glen Trifiro 19. Matthew Simon 25. Eddy Bosnar

Central Coast Mariners substitutes: 1. Matthew Nash 9. Mitchell Duke 16. Liam Rose 17. Richard Vernes 26. Seung Yong Kim

Brisbane Roar starting XI: 4. Adam Sarota 5. Corey Brown 8. Steven Lustica 10. Henrique 12. Jean Carlos Solorzano 13. Jade North 14. Daniel Bowles 15. James Donachie 17. Matthew McKay (C) 21. Jamie Young (GK)23. Dmitri Petratos

Brisbane Roar substitutes: 3. Shane Stefanutto 7. Mensur Kurtisi 16. Devante Clut 28. Brandon Borrello 30. Matthew Acton (GK) 

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