Mariners on top as Reds go down
Central Coast 2 Adelaide 1
Ball control ... Mariner Oliver Bozanic. Photo: Getty Images
THE Central Coast Mariners shot to the top of the league for the first time this season after toppling previous frontrunners Adelaide United in a hard-fought encounter at Gosford on Saturday night. But coach Graham Arnold will not be trumpeting his side's spot on the ladder.
''We're not even mentioning the position that we're in,'' Arnold said. ''It's more about our performance and consistency, and I thought in those type of conditions, our performance was excellent.''
In stifling heat, after falling behind 1-0 to a Bruce Djite swivel, strike and goal on 16 minutes, the Mariners manufactured an equaliser on the stroke of half-time through Josh Rose, before pinching the three points with a goal in the 75th minute to former Sheffield United midfielder Nick Montgomery.
The Reds' Zenon Caravella shows his skills. Photo: Getty Images
It might have been no less than the Mariners deserved after creating a litany of chances from start to finish. It might also have been a lucky win, given they failed to capitalise on the efforts of a smooth midfield machine, led by Michael McGlinchey, who was moved into the centre of the park in the absence of Socceroo Tom Rogic.
The Mariners butchered many chances, perhaps the worst of which was by Bernie Ibini on 50 minutes, when the striker smashed the ball over the crossbar, despite having only to place the ball into an open goal from close range.
''We have to be honest and say that we were very sloppy in the final third,'' Arnold conceded.
''The score could have been much more. I put it down to the heat factor. The first thing that goes normally when you're fatigued and tired is your brain, your decision-making.''
Adelaide coach John Kosmina did not quite see it that way. Despite the Reds asking for a second-half drinks break - denied by the referee, who had the decisive vote - the visiting coach did not believe the heat was to blame for his team's loss.
''The heat doesn't make you pass the ball to the opposition,'' he said. ''We probably let three points get away. We had good opportunities to take control of the game, which we did in stages, but we didn't keep control of it. Then we got caught on the counter-attack. Overall, I can't complain too much because we had three enforced changes … and all in all, some of the football wasn't too bad. We made some silly mistakes and let the Mariners get three points.''
Kosmina praised his team, singling out 17-year-old goalkeeper Paul Izzo, who was mostly solid on debut in place of Socceroo custodian Eugene Galekovic, and Zenon Caravella, who had not played first-team football ''for a long time''.
''It's always nice to be on top,'' Kosmina said of the Reds' relinquishing the competition lead. ''We've been on top for seven weeks so we can't complain too much.''
This was the Mariners' day, with four home wins in a row for the first time in the club's history. ''Since the day I came to this club it's been all about making the home ground a fortress and trying to win 10 of our 13 home games,'' Arnold said. ''If you can win 10, there's 30 points, and you've only got to get six or seven away from home to get into the top six.''