Mariners lose coach but win against City

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Despite a turbulent season week for the Mariners, the club might be approaching the light at the end of the stadium tunnel starting with a 1-0 victory over Melbourne City.

What with the mid-season sacking of coach Phil Moss, who was contracted to stay with the club until the end of the 2016/17 season, and the prospect of a $500,000 payout for his early termination, the win comes as welcome news as the club attempts to salvage what’s left of the season.

Newly-appointed interim coach, Machester-born Tony Walmsley, has hinted that the focus for the remaining eight weeks of regular season is to be as proactive and positive as possible.

“What I do know us that we’ve got an 8 game season, effectively, and the challenge really is to see what can be achieved,” Walmsley said before the game.

“We’ve got the first game on Sunday to challenge ourselves to be proactive and energetic… and there’s a good mood about that – there’s a good opportunistic feel about that.”

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The Mariners’ new “positive” approach seems to have to paid off; their attack had a renewed sense of conviction to it, with the Mariners finally finding the back of the net in the 72nd minute from a beautifully taken spot-kick by Fabio Ferreira.

Despite the win, Melbourne City didn’t make it easy for the yellow and navy, with Aaron Mooy, Baharudin and Patrik Kisnorbo all forcing Mariners custodian Liam Reddy to make some fingertip saves.

“They were the better team for the vast majority of the first half – they’ve got a lot of power, they’ve got a lot of money,” said Walmsley after the game.

Retiring captain and assistant-coach-to-be, John Hutchinson said the players are as disappointed in their performance so far this season as the fans, and that they have to accept their share of the blame.

“The boys are just looking forward to getting out there and ending a difficult week; but morale is up, the boys are looking forward to a good game, and hopefully we can get another win on the board,” Hutchinson said.

“Hutch”, as he is lovingly known at the club, played his 221st game. As far as Walmsley is concerned, he is still a player and will continue to contribute to the club in a playing capacity until the season’s close.

“The season is what it is, I’m interested in what it can be. I’m interested in what the opportunities are, what the possibilities are. And if the players can have the same level of optimism… then we’ll go a long way,” said Walmsley before the game.

The Mariners certainly had their chances. In the 31st minute after Safuwan Baharudin laid a sloppy tackle onto Anthony Caceres. Baharudin was issued a yellow, the Mariners a free kick, but Bosnar’s shot went straight to City keeper Tando Valhapi.

Fitzgerald had an almost one-on-one opportunity to score in the 38th minute, but taking a touch too many, he was closed off by City’s defenders. While fans continued to see instances of hesitation in front of goal, the Mariners were at least passing back much less.

It appeared the locker room chat at half-time was about applying as much pressure as possible, because the Mariners began the second half rearing to go. Walmsley said the changes they made were mainly positional, but also hinted at a more attacking style of play.

“We wanted to start with a much higher pressing line, generally…We wanted to get Fabio Fereirra into the game more than we had in the first half, so we played Poscoliero deeper to allow more balls to be played into Fab. The second thing was we tried to get Cernak in between the fullback and the centre back to allow Josh Rose to get forward,” he said.

The obvious criticism of Phil Moss’s tactical approach is that it was too defensive, too safe. At this stage of the season, you might question what he was trying to defend. When you’ve got nothing to lose, you may as well go out guns blazing.

Which is what it seems the Mariners are trying to do.

While Cernak squandered a chance in front of goal, a cross from Montgomery in the 47th minute found Fabio Ferreira on the edge of the box, who very nearly made it a goal. Fitzgerald should have scored in the 56th minute, with a fantastic cross from Fereirra finding him in the middle of the box, but he headed it straight into Velaphi.

The second half continued on in goal-less fashion, until the 72nd minute. Isaka Cernak was fouled just outside the box by Connor Chapman, winning the Mariners a free kick. Taken by Ferreira and pummeled straight into the back of the net, the Mariners advanced to a 1-0 lead in front of 6079 jubilant fans.

As the Mariners’ clenched their fourth win of the season, Wamsley sees no reason not to look towards the final eight weeks of the season optimistically, with hopes of even making the top six.

“I’m a glass half-full guy, I’m the eternal optimist. Why not?,” he said.

As the Mariners get set to face Adelaide United on Thursday night, the big question is whether or not Fabio Ferriera will play.

When asked about a “gentleman’s agreement” Phil Moss had made with Adelaide United at the time of Ferreira’s signing, Walmsley seemed unfazed:

“If he’s not playing it’ll be because he’s injured,” he said.

While the Mariners are definitely fighting an uphill battle for the rest of the season, they just might make the top six. Stranger things have happened, after all.

Central Coast Mariners starting XI: 3. Josh Rose, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 5. Zac Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (C) 8. Nick Montgomery, 10. Anthony Caceres, 11. Nick Fitzgerald, 12. Liam Reddy (GK), 23. Isaka Cernak, 25. Eddy Bosnar, 26. Fabio Ferreira

Central Coast Mariners substitutes: 1. Matthew Nash (GK) 2. Storm Roux, 14. Travis Major, 16. Liam Rose, 18. Glen Trifiro

Melbourne City starting XI: 4. Connor Chapman, 5. Eric Paartalu, 6. Aaron Moody, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Robert Koren, 15. David Williams, 16. Joshua Kennedy, 20. Tando Velaphi (GK), 24. Patrick Kisnorbo (C), 27. Kew Jaliens, 29. Safuwan Baharudin

Melbourne City substitutes: 1. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 7. Iain Ramsay, 9. Harry Novillo, 17. Jason Hoffman, 18. Paulo Retre,

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