Central Coast Mariners decision to shift their home game to North Sydney Oval hasn’t paid off, slumping to a crushing 3-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory on Friday night.
The visitors pounced three times in 11 second half minutes to wrap up their first away win of the campaign with goals to Besart Berisha, Daniel Georgievski and substitute Connor Pain.
The much-talked about surface held up pretty well considering a torrential downpour a couple of hours before kick-off but the storm clouds are sure to gather of Mariners boss Phil Moss after an eighth straight game without a win.
WHAT THEY SAID
"They're a quality team, we knew if we coughed the ball up in stupid areas that they'd counter attack. The front four are so fast and such good players and tonight they punished us. We competed for the first half but the second half they were just too good for us." - Mariners Captain John Hutchinson
"We're very happy, no matter where or when we're happy to get three points. Next week we've got the derby against Sydney so we look forward to that. We'll the positiives out of this and keep moving forward." - Victory defender Daniel Georgievski
0-1 Berisha (62’) – Archie Thompson found space through the heart of the Mariners defence, producing a clever pirouette to avoid John Hutchinson’s tackle and then slipping a brilliant pass for Berisha to finish low and hard across Liam Reddy into the far corner.
0-2 Georgievski (68’) – The Macedonian robbed Nick Montgomery of possession about 30 yards from goal before taking a couple of paces forward a curling a sublime shot into the top corner past a stranded Reddy for his first Hyundai A-League goal.
0-3 Pain (73’) – Kosta Barbarouses was given too much space on the ring wing to send in a teasing centre. While the ball just eluded Berisha it was perfect for Pain, who only entered the field a couple of minutes earlier, for a simple tap in at the far post.
Victory centre-back Adrian Leijer had picked up an early booking for a foul on Nick Fitzgerald and was lucky not to have received a second yellow six minutes before the break. Mariners’ midfielder Richard Vernes was heading towards Victory’s goal when Leijer tripped the Hungarian to concede a free-kick. But referee Strebre Delovski opted not to punish Leijer, keeping both sides with the full compliment. Victory took full advantage after the break.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Victory continued their recent dominance of the Mariners, their comfortable victory a fourth straight match unbeaten against Phil Moss’ troops. It was also their first away win of the season and increases their unbeaten start to the campaign to nine games, a club record.
Georgievski was brought to Victory for his defensive ability but demonstrated his class going forward with a superb strike to ice the result. It wasn’t just the quality of his finish but the awareness and technique to execute it which was most impressive and something the likes of his team-mates Ben Khalfallah, Berisha and Finkler would be proud of.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
The Mariners just can’t seem to get the ingredients right in the front third and again struggled to mount any serious pressure on Victory’s back four. Richard Vernes, Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald got into a host of good positions in and around the box but either wasted their shot or cross or ran out of ideas. It’s a big reason why they have managed just five goals from nine matches this season, a Hyundai A-League low.
THE FINAL WORD
Central Coast will need to find answers quickly with a long and tough trip to Wellington to take on the in-form Phoenix while Victory have given themselves the perfect build-up to next Saturday night’s huge clash at home against Sydney FC.
Central Coast Mariners: Reddy, Roux, Anderson, Rose, Neill, Hutchinson, Montgomery (Trifiro 74’), Vernes (Sim 74’), Caceres, Fitzgerald, Simon (Duke 56’)
Melbourne Victory: Coe, Geria (Ansell 49’), Leijer, Broxham, Georgievski, Milligan, Valeri, Barbarouses, Khalfallah (Makarounas 80’), Thompson (Pain 71’), Berisha
Scorers: Berisha 62’, Georgievski 68’, Pain 73’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Leijer 13’, Roux 49’, Ansell 84’
Conditions: 24C, Wet
Attendance: 7098 @ North Sydney Oval