Arnold talks up positives

Graham Arnold was eager to turn the attention to the Central Coast Mariners' wonderful achievements of 2011 after finishing off the year with a slightly disappointing 0-0 draw at home to rock-bottom Gold Coast in the traditional New Year's Eve fixture.

Graham Arnold was eager to turn the attention to the Central Coast Mariners' wonderful achievements of 2011 after finishing off the year with a slightly disappointing 0-0 draw at home to rock-bottom Gold Coast in the traditional New Year's Eve fixture.

The Mariners coach was in a reflective mood after seeing a defensive Gold Coast end his side's six-match winning streak by registering a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Central Coast's lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League is now just three points after Melbourne Heart's demolition of Sydney on Thursday but by avoiding defeat the club cemented some statistics that Arnold was pleased to share with his players.

"Overall I'm very proud of the boys in 2011. It's been a fantastic year. As I just said to them, in home and away games in the A-League in 2011 they lost two games and they didn't lose at Bluetongue in the whole calendar year. The boys have been fantastic and tomorrow's a new year and we start again."

Arnold talked up Gold Coast's counter-attacking threat, revealing that he was unwilling to throw the kitchen sink at a team with plenty of potential to ruin the Mariners' unbeaten record.

"I'm happy with the way we played. There was only one team winning but the threat was on the counterattack so we had to make sure we kept a number of players behind the ball. We were worried about the pace of (James) Brown, (Ben) Halloran and (Maceo) Rigters on the break.

"As soon as we saw the team sheet where we saw they basically had five defenders and two defensive midfielders we knew it would be a day of trying to break them down. We had enough chances to win the game.

"You play with wingers up high and they catch you on the counter. I don't look at the ladder too much. With the quality they have they don't belong down the bottom and they got a good well-deserved point tonight."

Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson said the bobbly pitch - described by Gold Coast counterpart Peter Jungschlager as "slippery" and by Arnold as "very difficult" - posed some problems for the players but refused to blame the result on conditions that affected both sides equally.

"It's a tough pitch," Hutchinson said. "We deserve a nice pitch to play on. The ground's bouncy and we find it hard but they find it hard also so we can't blame the pitch for us drawing the game."

Central Coast striker Matt Simon played his second last game for the club after confirming a switch to K-League club Chunnam Dragons on Friday and Hutchinson said the squad was keen to make his final match a memorable one after failing to fire in front of a crowd of 14,838 on Saturday.

"I love Matty as all the boys do and if anything it should spur us on to send him off as a winner in the last few games. Matty has been a great clubman. He's fantastic with the boys. Everyone loves him, he's a fan favourite. Hopefully we can send him off as a winner (on Wednesday against Melbourne Victory)."

Arnold hinted that Trent Sainsbury could be called in to deputise for Patrick Zwaanswijk against Victory after the centre back picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Gold Coast.