Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold praised the fighting spirit of both teams after his side's entertaining 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar.
Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold praised the fighting spirit of both teams after his side's entertaining 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
An early Michael McGlinchey goal for the Mariners seemed to knock the stuffing out of Brisbane, but the reigning Hyundai A-League champions fought back admirably in the second period.
A Besart Berisha brace put the Roar in front before Central Coast showed why they are one of the favourites to take the title this year, hitting back late to draw level through Daniel McBreen.
"I thought it was a good game of football on a field that was a bit gluggy," Arnold said after the match.
"It wasn't the best condition I've seen Suncorp in.
"Brisbane showed great fight when they went down 1-0. It probably could have been 2-0 at half time, we had the chances.
"They showed great fight to come back in the second half as you expect champion teams to do.
"But the character again of our boys - down on number at the moment, with players out injured and suspended - the character the boys showed to come back in the last 10 minutes was really good and I thought we looked like getting the 3-2 at the end."
Though preferring not to dwell on the refereeing, Arnold said the result could have been different if Roar defender Jade North had been shown his marching orders early on, after he brought down McGlinchey when he was through on goal.
North admitted in a post-match interview that he was lucky to have remained on the field.
"My view from where I was, it was 100 percent send off," Arnold said.
"Last defender. McGlinchey had the ball and was away. Fouled him. And I believe Jade North has already said on television that he should have been sent off.
"And then it's a 1-0 game and 10 men, the team down on confidence, could be a different story.
"But look, let's not look at that.
"Overall I think you get some good decisions and some bad decisions through the year and tonight we got a bad one, but the most important thing for us is we got a good point away from home."
Despite some shaky form this season, Arnold said he believes the Roar would still be a serious title contender if they make the top six, in part due to an 'unfair' finals system.
"If they can get in the six - the way the finals series is done this year, it's more like a knockout competition, and I think it's a bit unfair the finals series the way it is, you don't get any reward for being one or two," he said.
"You can lose your first game and it's over. It's done.
"It's a cup competition between six teams and you've just got to go for it.
"(So that's why) we put a lot of emphasis on the Premier's Plate."