Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne Victory  1 - 0


Postecoglou looking to the future

14 April 2013 17:30

Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou was keen to look to the future after his side's 1-0 loss to Central Coast ended their A-League season.

A goal from Daniel McBreen just before half-time in Sunday's preliminary final in Gosford was enough to send the Mariners into their second grand final in three years.

Postecoglou was disappointed to see his side's season come to an end, but said he was looking forward to continuing the work he has started with the powerhouse club.

"Being so close to getting there, it's always bitterly disappointing and very disappointing for our club and our fans," Postecoglou said.

"You saw how many supporters travelled up here today, we play in front of an average crowd of 22-23,000 people.

"A club that is like that deserves to set those standards and it's up to us to come up to those measures.

"That's why I came to this football club."

The former Brisbane Roar coach said he had been buoyed by the amount of young talent injected into the team this season.

Scott Galloway (18), Jason Geria and Connor Pain (both 19), plus 20 year-old forward Andrew Nabbout all impressed in their first seasons with Victory.

"The young guys, we have thrown them in at the deep end and they have understood what it is to play for this football club and the pressures," he said.

"The four or five that were there tonight will all be very good for us."

Postecoglou said he could not understand critics of the A-League finals system for their belief that it is easy for teams outside the top two to make the grand final.

The Victory coach believes finals are always intense affairs - which makes the drain of travel more of a hindrance.

"It surprises me the naivety of people when they talk about finals in this country, still after 30-odd years of playing them," he said.

"They are a totally different game to home and away.

"I almost had to laugh when I heard people saying 'teams from sixth can win it'.

"To win an away game in a final is tremendously hard."

Postecoglou said that whoever wins next week's grand final would be thoroughly deserving of an A-League championship.

"The two best performed and most consistent sides are in the grand final and one of them will be worthy champion," he said.


Arnold wants a drink with rival Popovic

14 April 2013 17:10

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold hopes to share a drink with Western Sydney counterpart Tony Popovic before next Sunday's A-League grand final.

Speaking after the Mariners' 1-0 win against Melbourne Victory which sealed a spot in the decider, Arnold praised the Wanderers and 39 year-old Popovic.

"Let me first say Western Sydney have been brilliant this year and Poppa is a great friend of mine," Arnold said.

"I can't wait to see him tomorrow night at the awards night and have a beer with him because he has had a fantastic season.

"Western Sydney Wanderers are going to be a huge challenge for use, especially with their 12th man there - there will probably be 30,000, 35,000 Western Sydney supporters there so we are going to have to be at the top of our game."

The former Crystal Palace assistant coach was in the stands at Gosford watching the Mariners and Melbourne Victory vie for the right to play the Wanderers in the grand final.

"No doubt Tony was taking down his notes with Ante Milicic (Wanderers assistant coach) and will look at the video of us but we will work on what our strengths are and we will worry about ourselves and try to nullify Western Sydney’s strengths," Arnold said.

One of the strengths Arnold refers to is evergreen striker Daniel McBreen who slotted home the decisive goal in the 42nd minute.

The former North Queensland Fury marksman’s 18th goal of the season sent the majority of the 10,651 fans into delirium on Sunday, and earned high praise from Arnold.

"Macca's great and it's his work-rate as well, He works so hard," he said.

"I change his role often, sometimes he is up high as a nine, other times if I need him in the midfield, if the opposition moves the ball around well, I'll put him as a 10 so he can do a lot of defensive work.

"No doubt everyone looks at the goals he has scored, and he scored a great goal tonight, but I look at his performance and what he does for the team and that is of great value."

The only negative to the Mariners' great performance in reaching a second grand final in three years appears the probable departure of three players overseas at the end of the season.

"It gives me huge pride in the amount of Australian kids that we bring through," Arnold said.

"I know I beat the drum about Australian youngsters here at the Mariners, it's a club of choice and it's a club of opportunity for the kids.

"Look at Bernie (Ibini) tonight and (Trent) Sainsbury, unbelievable, they were outstanding, they have developed so much.

"Matty Ryan has matured so much.

"Unfortunately I think that might be their last game on that field for some of those players.

"They have got agents knocking on the door and I think you might see that they will be heading off."


A-League: Central Coast 1 Melbourne Victory 0

14 April 2013 11:29

A Daniel McBreen goal has sent Central Coast into the A-League grand final after their 1-0 win over the Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

The semi-final win means the Mariners will now face the Western Sydney Wanderers in next Sunday’s decider at Allianz Stadium.

However, the Mariners will need to do it without combative midfielder Nick Montgomery, who was sent off late for a second bookable offence.

McBreen's winner was the least the Mariners deserved.

After Bernie Ibini beat two defenders, he laid a ball on for 35-year-old McBreen - the competition's Golden Boot winner - to give the home side the lead prior to the interval.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold had returned eight players to his side's starting side after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Guizhou Renhe in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday, while Argentine playmaker Marcos Flores swapped places with Connor Pain for Victory.

Mariners forwards Mile Sterjovski and Bernie Ibini had early attempts on goal for the home side as the Central Coast attacked Victory's right flank, primarily targeting 19-year-old defender Jason Geria.

Mariners defenders Pedj Bojic, Joshua Rose, and Trent Sainsbury also got involved, having strikes on goal.

Victory were more positive as the half wore on, with New Zealand international Marco Rojas forcing Mat Ryan to intercept a cross in the 28th minute as he attempted to send a ball towards team-mate Archie Thompson.

Flores was also lively but the Mariners were often able to respond quickly in transition.

McBreen's goal in the shadows of half-time was a reward for effort after a positive period of play for the Mariners, with Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe kept busy by 10 attempts on goal.

After an hour of play, Thompson finally had the Victory's first meaningful shot on target after a smart run. The veteran forward had another shot four minutes later as the visitors chased an equaliser.

Both sides made attacking substitution with Mitchell Duke, 22, and 19-year-old Pain coming on for the Mariners and Victory respectively.

Arnold's decision to bring on Duke nearly had the desired impact in the 70th minute when he rifled a shot just wide of the right-hand post.

The men in yellow and navy continued to be better in attack, with a tight offside call costing them a second goal in the final 10 minutes before Montgomery's dismissal.

Montgomery was shown a second yellow card after a late foul on Mark Milligan, which will cost him a grand final appearance.

A late foul on substitute Andrew Nabbout gave Victory a chance to send the game into extra-time, but Rojas' free-kick was sent into the Mariners' wall for the home side to hang on.

The Mariners will now get the chance to exorcise their grand final demons after previous losses to Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets and the Brisbane Roar.


Mariners keeper backs rising stars in China

9 April 2013 02:35

Central Coast goalkeeper Mat Ryan has backed a young Mariners squad to 'grind out a result' in China on Tuesday.

With one eye Sunday's A-League semi-final showdown with Melbourne Victory, Mariners coach Graham Arnold elected to leave several experienced players in Gosford ahead of the AFC Champions League match with Guizhou Renhe.

Instead, he has placed his faith for the trip to China in a host of youngsters, with just three of the 15-man squad over 25.

Ryan turned 21 on Monday, but has 86 senior appearances since making his debut in 2010. He had some reassuring words for his young team-mates ahead of the match at the Guiyang Sports Centre.

"There is nothing more I like than to see a young boy getting a chance and taking it," he said in a club statement.

"They’ve all had a taste of first team football here at the Mariners and they’ve all held their own, and they’ll be looking to do that again.

"Being a young boy, you've kind of got no fear. You just kind of go out and live up the moment. Hopefully we can work hard and grind out a result.

"The boys can take a lot of confidence out of the result at home (a 2-1 win last Wednesday).

"Being on the road this time things are a little bit different with the travel, but we're confident we've got the team structure and have brought the team across that can come here and get a positive result tomorrow night before going home to the semi on Sunday."

Guizhou Renhe are reportedly a club dealing with inner turmoil, with rumours interim coach Gong Lei has lost the players and former Manchester City defender Sun Jihai wields too much power in the dressing room.

All Ryan wants, however, is a belated birthday present: "I can't really celebrate my birthday in the typical fashion that you celebrate a 21st birthday, but I have the best job in the world so there's no better way to do it."

A-League table

# Team MP D P
6 15 -7 19
7 17 -8 16
8 17 -17 16
9 16 -6 15
10 15 -10 11

A-League table

# Team MP D P
2 16 +18 33
3 16 +2 26
4 16 +0 23
5 16 +2 22
6 15 -7 19