Defence does the job for Mariners

Lawrie McKinna has praised the discipline and composure of his Mariners team after the visitors caused a minor upset in the opening game of the Hyundai A-League season against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

Lawrie McKinna has praised the discipline and composure of his Mariners team after the visitors caused a minor upset in the opening game of the Hyundai A-League season against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

Central Coast won 2-0 thanks to early goals from Matt Simon and a deflected shot from Michael McGlinchey, but it was the way in which the Mariners completed the job by holding out one of the Hyundai A-League's highest-rated attacking line-ups to keep a clean sheet which pleased their coach.

"I don't think you ever give 10 out of 10. But it was a good solid performance," McKinna said. "We set out to do a job and we achieved that. Melbourne put us under a bit of pressure in the second half, but we had to just defend in the second half and I thought we did that well. The boys were organised and confident in defence."

The Mariners were deserved winners after being harder at the ball and more committed in defence. McKinna said it was about playing as a team and about being unwilling to give up possession easily.

"We did compete with the ball and when somebody was in there, there was always somebody backing them up and probably in the last few months, that hasn't been there. Tonight, if somebody was getting beat, somebody else was out there backing them up. That was encouraging, the work rate was there, the understanding was there, and the teamwork was there," he said.

"We've never been a team of individuals, we've always been a solid team, we are at our best when we are working for each other and tonight we did that."

Skipper Alex Wilkinson said the Mariners' preparation for the opening match of the season was all about being more disciplined than their opponents.

"We spoke about it all week, we worked very hard on defensive shape, the last couple of days and it obviously paid off. All the boys were very compact. It was a very disciplined performance and we're just very happy to start the season with three points, especially against the defending champions," Wilkinson said.

But McKinna rejected that his team was motivated by a perceived lack of respect in the pre-season, but rather a need to maintain the proud record of consistency the Mariners have built up over the first four seasons of the Hyundai A-League.

"We don't need to prove a point. The press might think we need to prove a point but we just need to do what we do. The boys went out there tonight to do that for ourselves, for our club, for our supporters and members," he said.

"We know we're a good team, we've been a team for four years. We just seem to need to re-invent ourselves all the time. But when we go out and we're consistent, we're not flash, but there's nothing wrong with being solid and getting a result."

McKinna appears to have found a replacement for Mile Jedinak at the back end of midfield in Pedj Bojic. When Jedinak left the club to go to Turkey, the Mariners' form dipped markedly. In fact, this is the first competitive win that the Mariners have had since the influential defensive midfielder left the club.

"(Bojic's) played there all pre-season. He's played there for five games, scored three goals from free kicks and he's a good athlete. He's great in the air because he's a centre half. He's done a great job at left back for us last year, and he's solid in the midfield. He's still learning and he's going to have a few ups and down, but he was everywhere tonight," McKinna said.

The news was not as positive at Melbourne, which looks set to be without captain Kevin Muscat for the next couple of matches after he injured a hamstring late in the match.