Mariners clinch Melbourne draw
A bizarre own goal has seen Central Coast snatch a 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park, stretching their unbeaten streak to four games.
A bizarre own goal has seen Central Coast snatch a 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park and stretch their unbeaten streak to four games.
In a game which see-sawed over the 90 minutes, the Mariners took an early lead through a 28th- minute goal from Daniel McBreen before the home side took control in the second half thanks to two goals in as many minutes from Rody Vargas and Carlos Hernandez.
Victory looked well on the path to their first win in three matches, until bad luck conspired against them in the 78th minute. A Grant Brebner clearance from a corner ricocheted off keeper Michael Petkovic's boot and went into the net, giving the visitors a fortunate share of the spoils.
It was a typically efficient performance from the Mariners, who only had two shots on target for the evening but still emerged with a point to consolidate their position in third on the table.
They now back-up at home against top-placed Brisbane Roar on Sunday with their confidence intact after three wins and a draw in the past four.
The Victory have the weekend off to reflect on a game which they dominated in terms of possession and chances, but only seriously looked venomous in a three-minute period midway through the second half.
Luck was against them, but their continued inability to covert a greater share of the ball onto the scoreboard will give them plenty to think about ahead of Saturday week's game in Wellington against the Phoenix.
Melbourne began the match playing the more adventurous football and on seven minutes a clever cross from Marvin Angulo gave Robbie Kruse a chance but he scuffed it wide. Soon after Hernandez fired a tame shot straight at Matthew Ryan before Archie Thompson missed two good chances.
That early profligacy came back to haunt Melbourne as the Mariners worked their way into the game. In a perfect execution of a counter attack, Alex Wilkinson picked up the ball in defence and delivered a clever long ball in to the path of McBreen.
Foiling a faltering offside trap, he headed the ball down and drilled a low shot under a static Michael to give the visitors a shock lead.
Far from being stung into action, Victory failed to lift their game and a few minutes later were almost punished by the impressive Mustafa Amini, who dinked the ball around Leigh Broxham and fired just over.
Melbourne spent the next half an hour with the ball at their feet but with little to show for it in front of goal. Angulo and Thompson continued to miss chances and in the end the goal on 62 minutes came from some industrious work from the three main defenders.
Kevin Muscat found himself free at the back post and his looped header was met by Adrian Leijer, who directed it goal-wards. Vargas was there to flick it into the net and the game turned on its head.
Only 90 seconds later, Pedj Bojic brought down Robbie Kruse just outside the box and Hernandez was licking his lips. He hit the shot beautifully, flat and to Ryan's right. He had no chance of stopping it and it was suddenly 2-1.
Melbourne continually threatened but Angulo and Thompson continued their frustrating night, both going over with gettable shots.
Central Coast looked no threat until Melbourne shot themselves in the foot on 78 minutes after bungling a clearance attempt from a corner. Alex Wilkinson slight touch forced a clearance from Grant Brebner but he only managed to hook it onto Petkovic's foot and the ball looped into the net.
Victory pressed hard for the three points and Kruse came within inches of covering himself in glory, but his header from a Tom Pondeljak cross went wide.
Melbourne Victory 2 (Vargas 62, Hernandez 64) Central Coast Mariners 2 (McBreen 28, Brebner 78og) Crowd: 9674 at AAMI Park