Roar win in goalfest

The Queensland Roar have moved into third place on the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 4-3 win over the Central Coast Mariners in a remarkable match at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.

The Queensland Roar have moved into third place on the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 4-3 win over the Central Coast Mariners in a remarkable match at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.

Lawrie McKinna-s decision to start the match with three strikers looked like it would pay dividends when Nik Mrdja gave the Mariners the lead in just the fifth minute of play. But Queensland attacked with equal venom and leveled through Sergio van Dijk just before half-time.

Van Dijk added a second four minutes into the second half before Matt Simon made it 2-2 soon after. Tahj Minniecon scored a sublime goal then saw one of his crosses deflect in off Mariners defender Pedj Bojic to make it 4-2 to Queensland with 20 minutes remaining.

The Central Coast are renowned for their late comebacks and Simon gave the home crowd of 11, 454 plenty of hope when he scored in the 80th minute to make it 4-3. Simon almost grabbed the Mariners a deserved late share of the spoils but was denied by a two amazing saves from Roar custodian Griffin McMaster.

The win sees Queensland (29 points) leapfrog the Mariners (28) into third place on the A-League ladder with two rounds left to play and Queensland still holding a match in hand against Adelaide.

“It is a great win, a huge win particularly away from home,” Roar coach Frank Farina said after the match.

“Both sides missed some good chances in the first half but I never thought it was going to turn out like that after coming in at half-time 1-1. We knew the Central Coast were going to come back…they always do.

“But any win at this stage of the season is a good win.”

The Round 19 match started at a breakneck speed with Central Coast goalkeeper Danny Vukovic cleaning up a goal-mouth scramble in the opening moments before Mrdja opened the scoring down the other end in just the fifth minute of play.

Dylan McAllister was gifted the ball by the Roar defence 25 out from goal. He passed to Matt Simon on the left wing who took it to the byline before sending a low cross into the box where Mrdja chested down the ball at the back post before calmly slotting a right-footed shot into the far corner of the net.

The match continued unabated with the Roar working their way back into the match only to create a number of near misses. Vukovic saved efforts from Serg van Dijk and Michael Zullo before defender Luke De Vere headed his shot into the crossbar following a Matt McKay corner.

Moments later Mitchell Nichols squandered a golden opportunity when he sliced his shot wide while in front of an open goal after an incisive run and cross from Tahj Minniecon.

Down the other end the Mariners missed their chances too with Adrian Caceras inexplicably shooting wide from 10 yards out, Mrdja being denied by Roar keeper Griffin McMaster and Simon narrowly missing after he had done well to shake off two defenders.

Something had to give and it fell in favour of Queensland who leveled through van Dijk just two minutes before half-time. McKay dispossessed Dean Heffernan 35 out from the Mariners goal. The Roar midfielder sent it wide to Minniecon who took the ball into the penalty area before crossing to Van Dijk, who has the easiest of tap-ins at the back post.

Mrdja had a chance to grab his second right on half-time but McMaster was up to the task and the teams headed to the break locked a 1-1.

The teams picked up where they left off from to start the second half with more attacking football and it was the visitors who silenced the crowd in the 49th minute when van Dijk snared his second goal.

McKay floated a high cross into the penalty area where the big Dutch striker managed to flick on a header just in front of the gloves of Vukovic and the ball lobbed in for a goal.

Minniecon and McKay missed chances for the Roar before the Mariners made it 2-2 courtesy of an error from McMaster. Heffernan sent a hopeful long ball forward for Simon, McMaster came out of his area but failed to get anything on the ball and Simon tapped ahead and began celebrating as he shepherded the ball into the net.

The Roar reclaimed the lead in moments later when Minniecon was rewarded for his attacking endeavours. The talented winger collected a long ball from Moore before weaving his way past McAlister and Alex Wilkinson before firing a low shot into the far corner of the net.

Queensland made it 4-2 nine minutes later when Minniecon, who had been impressive all night in attack, beat Heffernan on the right wing before sending in a dangerous cross toward van Dijk at the near post. The ball deflected off the heel of Mariners defender Pedj Bojic and past Vukovic into the net.

Matt Simon made it 4-3 in the 80th minute when capitalised on another defensive error from Queensland after Moore slipped in trying to clean up a through ball from Wilkinson. Simon pounced on the loose ball before sliding a ball past McMaster to set up a thrilling finish.

Simon had two late chances to snatch a point for the home side but he was denied by a fantastic fingertip save from McMaster before again seeing the Roar custodian save when he got a foot to an on-target shot from the Mariners striker in the final seconds of the match.

Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna said he was disappointed with the result considering the start his side made.

“Going up one nil early and we pretty much dominated the first half but giving a goal away two minutes before half-time and three minutes after half-time really killed us.

“Credit to the boys for coming back but we should have to when we had a 1-0 lead just before half-time.”

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Mrdja 5, Simon 54, 80)

Queensland Roar 4 (Van Dijk 43, 49, Minniecon 60, Bojic 69og)

Crowd 11, 454 at Bluetongue Stadium, Central Coast.