Reds brought back to down earth by Mariners

Adelaide United FC’s top two aspirations have taken a hit as the Central Coast Mariners halted the Reds’ recent momentum with a 2-1 result at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.

Adelaide United FC-s top two aspirations have taken a hit as the Central Coast Mariners halted the Reds- recent momentum with a 2-1 result at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.

The highly anticipated contest between the second and third placed teams had the United faithful with high expectations prior to kick-off, but the game turned out to be one way traffic for the most part as the Mariners never allowed the Reds to get into the groove that had seen them score 12 times in the past two games.

The Central Coast opened the Reds- defence up twice in the first half to lead 2-0 at the break courtesy of Patricio Perez and Joshua Rose, before Travis Dodd pegged one back for the home side late on to set up a tense final few minutes.

However, there would be no late escape for the Reds as they slipped four points behind the second placed Mariners with three games to go.

Head Coach Rini Coolen was left to rue the fact a number of his charges were unable to repeat the standard of last week against the North Queensland Fury, although he admitted the pressure by the Mariners played a major part in why his team struggled to get going.

“I-m not happy with the result, we can play at a better level, but it-s also a credit to the team that we played against today,” Coolen said.

“We are good enough to play at a higher level. I think we played better than them in the second half, but coming back from 2-nil and changing something, that-s not easy. We tried everything but sometimes you play a game like that, and it was not good enough today to beat the Central Coast.”

Coolen dismissed any suggestions that the Reds were not switched on mentally for the match after coming off the back of an 8-1 win over the Fury, the Reds boss aware that the road now becomes even tougher to finish in second spot.

“We didn-t create a lot of chances, but if you score a goal with your pressure at the right time there is still a chance to at least get one point or maybe more, but that goal came too late,” Coolen said.

“It-s a big loss because we don-t have everything in our own hands now to be the number two of the league, but still there a couple of games to go and we will fight until the last game to get that spot back.”

Considering the significance of the contest, it was a cagey affair in the opening stages, the Reds knowing they were definitely in for a tougher task trying to break down the compact Mariners defence, as opposed to last week-s goal fest at Hindmarsh.

In the 11th minute the Mariners were probing and Perez showed why he is so highly regarded in Gosford as he broke the deadlock. The Argentine found space to move at the top of the United penalty area before getting past Adam Hughes, and with his marker Francisco Usucar unable to track him, Perez coolly put his shot past Eugene Galekovic to give first blood to the Mariners.

The Reds could well have found themselves two goals behind in the 19th minute as Daniel McBreen sent his header just wide of the target from a dangerous Perez cross.

A compulsory drinks break after 25 minutes due to the sweltering conditions gave Coolen the chance to refocus his side, who were being frustrated by a disciplined and well drilled Mariners outfit.

But the pause in play only seemed to invigorate the visitors as Rose latched onto a clever ball from Perez, the left back curling is shot inch perfect inside the far post and out of the reach of Galekovic.

Sergio van Dijk tried to start a Reds resurgence with a fierce pile driving free kick from distance but Mariners keeper Matt Ryan was perfectly positioned to keep his side-s two goal lead in check.

The Reds continued to be well contained heading into the second half, Coolen introducing Mathew Leckie and Paul Reid with 25 minutes to go as United-s cause was becoming increasingly desperate.

Galekovic prevented the Reds from further blushes in the 73rd minute as he got a glove to close range Michael McGlinchey effort and then a close range save from Matt Simon, while at the other end, try as they might, the Reds could not get behind a stubborn Mariners defence.

Dodd failed to get any connection on a van Dijk cross in a rare chance for the home side, before they eventually found some joy when the Reds skipper capitalised on a Lucas Pantelis corner.

But the Reds- run had come too late as the Mariners clinched a valuable three points. Adelaide United must now focus on scoring maximum points from their remaining three games, beginning with a tough midweek fixture away against Gold Coast on Wednesday night.

Match Details Adelaide United FC (Dodd 90+1-) Central Coast Mariners 2 (Perez 11-, Rose 30-) Referee: Strebre Delovski Crowd: 12,109 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 6.CASSIO, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES (19.Mathew LECKIE 66-), 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Cameron WATSON (12.Paul REID 66-), 17.Iain RAMSAY (7.Lucas PANTELIS 46-), 21.Francisco USUCAR

Substitutes not used: 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) Yellow cards: Flores 55- Red cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 20.Mathew RYAN (gk), 2.Daniel McBREEN (23.Adam KWASNIK 81-), 3.Joshua ROSE, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 6.Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10.Patricio PEREZ, 11.Oliver BOZANIC (7.John HUTCHINSON 86-), 14.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 18.Alex WILKINSON (c), 19.Matt SIMON

Substitutes not used: 22.Mustafa AMINI, 30.Paul HENDERSON (gk) Yellow cards: Bojic 52-, Perez 61-, Griffiths 79- Red cards: Nil