‘It’s happening far too often’: the problem the Mariners just can’t shake

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For the seventh time in 16 matches this season, the Central Coast Mariners saw themselves take a lead in a match on Saturday night. They even doubled that lead and took a 2-0 score line into half time. But something that is all too familiar for the Central Coast, they lost the game 3-2.

For all of their hard work in the early stages of games, out of those seven matches they have held a lead, they have been victorious in just the one game. One.

It appears the Mariners are being overrun by their opponents in the final stages of games. Saturday night saw the Victory score the winning goal in the 88th minute. Last week against Adelaide the Mariners conceded in the 92nd minute to lose 2-1, and even going to the beginning of the season, the Mariners conceded a goal in the 95th minute in Perth to lose that game 3-2.

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Speaking directly after the gut-wrenching loss to the Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening, Mike Mulvey addressed the fatigue issue.

“It’s a little bit numb and a bit raw right now, thinking about what’s happened in the second half”, said Mulvey.

“We actually performed exactly how we wanted to perform. We caused them problems, created chances, and the pressure told with the goals.

“We just can’t see 90 minutes out. We need to analyse it some more but it’s happening far too often.

“People have asked me, is it mental? Is it fitness? You could look at all that, but it comes down to game management.

“I think fatigue for sure [is a factor]. There’s two ways fatigue comes into the equation.

“One is the January travel and [lots of] games and what have you, and maybe we run out of gas a little bit towards the end.

“But then there’s if you’ve got your tail up and you’ve got a bit of momentum, it gives you that added boost”.

That added boost is something Mulvey’s Mariners are severely lacking, and instead find the wind being taken from their sails more often than not.

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Injuries to key players certainly hasn’t helped and has consequentially resulted in players getting extra minutes on the pitch where Mulvey may have otherwise rotated.

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But the big issue for the Mariners comes from the team just looking flat in the second halves of games. That can be partly contributed to the team sitting deeper desperate to hold onto a lead, or even a point. But another part of that equation has to be a lack of fitness.

Mulvey has previously criticised the FFA over fixture congestion mixed with long travel and warm temperatures, but all teams have similar schedules and issues. So, that can’t really be used as an excuse.

Despite yet another painful defeat on Saturday night, Mulvey was still upbeat about his side’s performances.

“In all this doom and gloom, you’ve got to say that results aside, we’re on the right pathway playing some bloody good football. We just can’t see 90 minutes out”, Mulvey said.

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“You need to look in the mirror first, so we will do that and get ready for next week”.

The Mariners take on the Western Sydney Wanderers next Saturday at Spotless Stadium.

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Both sides have seen poor results in recent weeks, and both will be desperate for a win in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

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Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
Football writer and radio presenter. Loves everything football (well, except Italian's diving since '06).

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