Central Coast Mariners vs. Adelaide United  1 - 0


A-League wrap: Mariners, Roar still neck-and-neck

17 March 2012 17:54

Central Coast and Brisbane Roar both notched victories in the A-League on Saturday, meaning the race for top spot will go down to the wire.

The Mariners began the penultimate round of the season leading the table by two points and they maintained that lead with a 1-0 win over Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium.

The home side entered the fixture with just one win from their past seven matches in all competitions.

And Adelaide fired a warning shot to Graham Arnold's side with a series of early attacking moves.

Dario Vidosic had two good attempts on goal while Central Coast goalkeeper Mat Ryan was required to make a fingertip save to deny Adelaide defender Nigel Boogaard.

While United were happy to sit back, soak up the pressure and hit Central Coast on the counter-attack, failure to convert their chances proved costly.

It took just two second-half minutes for the Mariners to take the lead with Pedj Bojic's terrific ball headed in by Bernie Ibini-Isei at the far post.

Michael McGlinchey hit the post with a free-kick shortly after while Patrick Zwaanswijk tested Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic twice in the latter stages.

The Mariners held on for victory though, which means they can clinch the title with a win in Wellington against the Phoenix next weekend.

Brisbane kept up their end of the bargain and kept themselves in contention for top spot with a 2-1 win over Newcastle in a pulsating encounter at Ausgrid Stadium.

The Jets made a bright start but it was Brisbane who took the lead when Albanian Besart Berisha poked the ball past Newcastle keeper Ben Kennedy after just 14 minutes.

The goal was Berisha's 19th of the season and he now needs to score just one more to break the record for most goals scored in a season, set by Shane Smeltz in 2009-10.

The Roar were unlucky not to add to their lead, Henrique seeing his strike hit both posts before Berisha himself hit the woodwork as Newcastle were under siege.

The Jets held firm though, and they equalised through a Ali Abbas free-kick five minutes before the break.

Henrique's bad luck continued as he missed as his penalty on 53 minutes was saved but the Roar remained in the lead thanks to a pair of superb stops from Brisbane keeper Michael Theoklitos.

And they clinched all three points thanks to Mitch Nichols' penalty with nine minutes to play.

The day's other game saw Melbourne Heart clinch a spot in the finals for the first time in their history despite throwing away a two-goal lead against Sydney FC.

Goals in the first half to Mate Dugandzic and Eli Babalj had the Heart cruising but Shannon Cole scored on 66 and 77 minutes for Sydney as the match finished 2-2.

A-League table

# Team MP D P
1 27 +16 51
2 27 +22 49
3 27 +5 43
4 27 +2 40
5 27 -5 38
6 27 +1 37
7 27 -3 35
8 27 -8 29
9 27 -18 25
10 27 -12 21