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Determined Mariners suffocate Roar

BRIvCCMThe Central Coast Mariners secured third spot and a home final after defeating Brisbane Roar 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

With both Victory and Western Sydney winning their respective matches earlier in the day, the pressure was on the Mariners to earn at least a point from the game.

Central Coast made drastic changes to their first team, replacing Matt Simon, Mile Sterjovski, John Hutchinson, and Kim Seung-Yong with Glen Trifiro, Nick Montgomery, Mitchell Duke, and Bernie Ibini, while Brisbane bulked up their starting lineup with the return of Ivan Franjic and Besart Berisha.

It was a back-and-forth start to the game, with Berisha’s early attempt on goal blocked and both sides putting unmarked headers over the crossbar.

Brisbane were controlling the ball in the early stages but Central Coast looked dangerous on the counter, particularly through Ibini. His dash forward led to a free kick on the edge of the box, and Bosnar’s powerful strike on goal forced a parry from Theo.

Brisbane continued to search for opportunities, and when Reddy’s clearance went straight to Matt Smith in the 18th minute, the defender took a long-range shot that the Central Coast ‘keeper almost fluffed.

Still, the visitors continued to pour forward, and they were rewarded in the 22nd minute when Ibini played in Roux who cut the ball back to Fitzgerald and he coolly slotted the ball home at the near post to make it 1-0.

The Roar responded immediately and almost had an equaliser 60 seconds later but Berisha snatched his effort wide.

The Mariners soon doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Caceres cracked Ibini’s lay-off past Theo from outside the box, after the ball was unconvincingly cleared from a corner.

Ibini was involved again in the visitor’s next break as he dashed past North, but his final ball was poor and the Roar defence were quick to clear.

Despite being behind, it could have been a lot better for the Roar at the break yet they missed two glorious chances, with Dimitri Petratos the chief culprit.

The first saw him blaze well over from the edge of the box, before neat team play in the 40th minute allowed McKay to square the ball to the forward, only for his close-range shot to cannon off the far post.

The Mariners were again on the offensive at the start of the second half, and Fitzgerald was presented with a golden opportunity to extend the lead when Roux’s cross eventually fell to him 12 yards from goal, only for the midfielder to hit the ball high over the crossbar.

The visitors continued brightly, and Duke saw his flat effort fly just wide minutes after Ibini stung the palms of Theo from a dangerous free-kick situation as Brisbane were yet to register a shot on target.

It finally came in the 60th minute through Petratos and there was drama as Reddy spilled the effort and Berisha slotted in the rebound, only to be rightly flagged offside.

Encouraged by the chance, the hosts pushed further up in search of a goal and had two great opportunities to score in as many minutes but Broich inexplicably blazed Franjic’s cut back over the bar and McKay’s first time shot went wide.

However, their period of attacking pressure was fleeting, and Fitzgerald had another good chance in the 66th minute when Duke’s back-heel played him through on goal, yet he wildly struck his effort into the side netting.

Duke’s scuffed effort forced Theo into a diving save before Berisha seized possession late in the game from Rose’s poor header back and he slid a shot past Reddy but against the post.

Eventually, however, Kris Griffiths-Jones’s final whistle came to the delight of the visitors, who secured third place and a home final in the first week of the playoffs.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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  • britesparke

    The Mariners have shown that stats mean nothing when it comes to a performance that counts at Suncorp and, in so doing, handed the Roar their first reality check before the finals. They only miss out on second spot due to GD!