Arnie praises spirit

Relieved Central Coast coach Graham Arnold was not happy with some of the execution but had nothing but praise for his player's fighting qualities after they scored a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw with Gold Coast United at Gosford on Saturday night.

Relieved Central Coast coach Graham Arnold was not happy with some of the execution but had nothing but praise for his player's fighting qualities after they scored a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw with Gold Coast United at Gosford on Saturday night.

In front of more than 10,000 home supporters at Bluetonge Stadium, the Mariners needed a goal from stand-in captain Patrick Zwaanswijk in the 87th minute to pick up their first point of the campaign.

An outstanding goal from James Brown just after half-time looked like being the difference before Zwaanswijk showed all his experience to head home an equaliser with time almost up.

"Thank God we've got so much character and fighting qualities in this team," Arnold said.

"One thing about this team is if things aren't going well they will fight to the death. They never give up."

Apart from the goal and the strong finish to the contest, Arnold said several aspects of his team's performance must improve if the Mariners are to beat Newcastle next week.

"The ball movement was slow and our movement off the ball was non existent," Arnold said.

"After seven months of non-competitive football all teams are going to be rusty. We'll get better."

Zwaanswijk admitted the Mariners did not play like they wanted to.

"Things didn't go our way a lot of the game," he said.

"But we worked so hard. To score a late goal and get a draw, we've got to be happy with that. We have to try and keep positive."

Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg said his team was shattered not to hold on and pick up the three points.

"It's disappointing to lose two points at the end, but we should be satisfied," he said.

"We're still learning about each other."

Gold Coast captain Michael Thwaite said: "In the second half we lost our pressure on the ball and that's when they scored."

"The boys were devastated in the change room which is a great sign for such a young side."