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2011/12 Review: Central Coast Mariners

Position: 1st
(knocked out of the finals by Perth 1-1 (5-3 on penalties))

Change in position from 2010/11: ↑ 1

Win-draw-loss record: 15-6-6
(40 goals scored, 24 goals conceded)

Highest goalscorer: Bernie Ibini-Isei, Matt Simon and Patrick Zwaanswijk (7)

Average attendance: 9,505

2011/12 was another fruitful and successful season for the Central Coast Mariners, going on to win their second premiership plate in club history. Behind the guidance of coach Graham Arnold, the Mariners were just as good as they were in 2010/11, going one step further and beating out Brisbane Roar in a tight race for top spot on the standings table.

Coming into this season, Arnold had retained the core of the team that heartbreakingly lost in a thrilling grand final the previous season. The defensive trio of Ryan, Wilkinson and Zwaasnwijk were back, as were the two full backs Rose and Bojic. A few new players were brought in to strengthen the squad, with Bernie Ibini being promoted from the youth team, Adriano Pellegrino being signed from Perth Glory, and young gun Tomas Rogic joining fresh out of the Nike Academy.

The Mariners got off to a slow start in the opening three rounds, but soon picked it up in the middle of the season winning 12 of 15 games between weeks 4 and 16. With the departure of a few players, including ‘keeper Mat Ryan, to Olyroo duty, the team began to sputter towards the finishing line. In the end, by winning their final two games, the Mariners did enough to sew up first place and their second premiers plate. Come finals time, though, and it was a different story. Going down to Brisbane 5-2 on aggregate in the two-legged semi final, the Mariners hosted Perth Glory in the preliminary final. Despite controlling large portions of the game and having the better of the chances, the Mariners were left heartbroken by penalties for the second year in succession, going down 5-3 in a shootout after 120 minutes of play couldn’t separate the two sides.

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Most Valuable Player: Patrick Zwaanswijk. 29 games, 7 goals, 8 bookings.
What a season it was for the 37-year old Dutchman. Alongside Mariners’ skipper Alex Wilkinson, Zwaanswijk was an impenetrable force down back for the Central Coast, with the Mariners allowing in a league-low 24 goals for the season. Add to that the fact that a central defender managed to be tied for the club’s golden boot with seven goals, and that he was a starting selection in our very own Team of the Season, and it all adds up to a pretty phenomenal year. Mariners’ fans will be hoping Patrick sticks around for at least one more season and another tilt at the title, and that we’ll see more goals like the one’s he scored against Sydney FC in week 7 and against Brisbane Roar in the semi final.

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Rising Star: Matthew Ryan. 24 games, 8 clean sheets.
Keeping a clean sheet in one in every three games is no mean feat, and Matt Ryan has showed this season that he is no ‘flash in the pan’ goalkeeper. For the second year in a row, Ryan took home the FFA’s A-League Rising Star award, a testament to the quality he possesses and making it very difficult to award our own Rising Star to anyone else (sorry Tomas Rogic). His performances were remarkable, and some of the saves he pulled off this season were nothing short of miraculous; none more so than in his week 15 man of the match performance against the Heart. Now, it’s all just a matter of how long the Mariners can hold onto such a fantastic young talent before he inevitably departs for the rigours of European football.

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Most Underachieving Player: Adriano Pellegrino. 7 appearances, 0 goals.
It was a disappointing season for Pellegrino, fresh off a pre-season transfer from Perth Glory. In 2010/11, Pellegrino played in 28 matches for the Glory. In 2011/12, however, he could only manage 7 appearances and less than 400 minutes of football. With the Mariners having a great season, at times it was difficult for Pellegrino to push into the starting XI. But, even when he did, his performances were lacking, and his touch and fitness (both traits he had in his time with the Glory) were nowhere to be found. If he remains with the Mariners for the 2012/13 season, both he and the club will be looking for better output and application from a player who has shown in the past that he has talent to burn.

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Most Underrated Player: Alex Wilkinson. 27 appearances, 3 bookings.
It was another consistently solid season for the Mariners’ skipper, missing just the opening few rounds of the season through injury. Continuing his formidable defensive partnership with Patrick Zwaanswijk, Wilkinson was a rock down back, ensuring the Mariners finished the season with the least goals conceded of any A-League club. After 172 appearances over 7 seasons for the Mariners, Wilkinson has been one of the league’s most underrated players from day dot, and it was no different this season. His importance to the Central Coast team cannot be underestimated, and his leadership on and off the park is second to none. Hard to believe with all those seasons behind him, and all those fantastic qualities, that he’s only 27 years old…

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What do you think? Did we get our selections right? Have your say on the Central Coast Mariners’ season below…

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avatarThis post was written by a Staff Writer for Ultimate A-League

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/Melli_moo92 Melinda Green

    COULD NOT AGREE MORE WITH MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER!

    Wilko is Mr Consistent at the back for us and never gets any credit, especially when he’s paired with a flashy centre half like Zwaanswijk (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Only 22 cards in 7 seasons (only double what Tim Brown and Manny Muscat got in this season alone) and barely put a foot wrong in all those years.