Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane have played out a post-Christmas cracker, fighting out a 3-3 draw in a thriller in Gosford on Saturday afternoon.
A largely forgettable first half ended with Roar taking a 1-0 lead to the break thanks to Jean Carlos Solorzano’s first A-League goal in over three years.
But the contest sprung to life after the break with goals to Eddy Bosnar – in his first start since November 9 – and Matt Simon putting the Mariners in front before James Donachie levelled things up again.
Substitute Kim Seung-yong looked like winning it for the home side when he struck 10 minutes from time but the Mariners could only hold the lead for two minutes before Solorzano got his second to ensure the visitors escaped with a point.
0-1 Solorzano (45’) – A neat piece of work by Henrique freed up Steven Lustica just outside the box, the midfielder’s shot taking a deflection and bouncing up into the path of Solorzano. The Costa Rican managed to bring the ball down and take it around Josh Rose before slotting past Liam Reddy from close range.
1-1 Bosnar (57’) – An over-hit corner was missed by everyone forcing Anthony Caceres to retrieve on the left wing. The midfielder swung in a cross which picked out an unmarked Bosnar who planted a precise header in the bottom corner.
2-1 Simon (63’) – Nick Fitzgerald forced a diving save out of Jamie Young with a powerful drive, with Roar’s ‘keeper getting up quickly to then deny Mitchell Duke on the rebound. But the ball spilled into the path of Simon who had the simple task of poking it home.
2-2 Donachie (71’) – Some slack marking from the Mariners at a corner allowed Donachie to leap high and get a header towards goal, the ball coming off the back of Storm Roux and past a stranded Reddy.
3-2 Kim (80’) – Duke won possession in midfield and ran at the defence before passing to Simon on the left. The striker’s effort was only parried into the path of Kim, with the South Korean showing great technique to volley the ball into an open net.
3-3 Solorzano (82’) – Dimitri Petratos found the over-lapping run of Daniel Bowles down the right and the defender played in a perfect low cross that allowed Solorzano the simple task of side-footing it home from just a couple of yards out.
With just a few minutes left the Mariners created another chance to regain the lead when a cross was only partially punched away by Young. Duke got to the loose ball first and looped a header towards goal where only a brilliant header by Donachie saw the ball fly just centimetres wide of the post. It was a huge play and ensured the visitors would escape with a point.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Mariners had struggled for goals in front of their home fans before this match, with Bosnar’s opener their first home goal in over 400 minutes of action. Simon’s goal was his third in as many games while Brisbane continued their love affair with the Central Coast, now losing just two matches there in 17 visits.
Referee Matthew Conger was in his first A-League game and earned the ire of Brisbane when he awarded the Mariners an indirect free-kick just a couple of metres out from goal for an apparent back pass by Donachie. It looked a harsh call and only some desperate defending – with all 11 players on the goal-line – denied the Mariners an equaliser.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Mariners boss Phil Moss started with a new 4-2-2-2 formation with Fitzgerald and Matt Sim supposed to provide the width but they rarely got any ball in a disjointed first half. The home side often passed the ball too slowly or backwards once winning possession back, allowing Brisbane to get their defensive structure set. To Moss’ credit he changed it up in the second half, switching to a 4-2-3-1 and putting Fitzgerald and Sim on opposite flanks and it paid off big time.
THE FINAL WORD
Central Coast will feel like they should have taken all three points from this one but should have gained some confidence to take to Pirtek Stadium on New Year’s Day for a clash with Western Sydney Wanderers FC. Brisbane have just three days before they are next in action, a home clash with Sydney FC on Tuesday night.
Central Coast Mariners: Reddy, Roux, Anderson, Bosnar, Rose, Hutchinson, Caceres, Sim (Duke 62’), Trifiro (Kim 72’), Fitzgerald, Simon
Brisbane Roar: Young, Bowles, Donachie, North, Brown, McKay, Sarota, Lustica, Petratos, Henrique (Borrello 55’), Solorzano
Scorers: Solorzano 45’, Bosnar 57’, Simon 63’, Donachie 71’, Kim 80’, Solorzano 82’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Bosnar 18’, Simon 37’, Bowles 65’, Kim 81’, Donachie 89’
Conditions: 20C, Dry
Attendance: 9932 @ Central Coast Stadium