Reds lose ground to impressive Mariners

Adelaide United FC has been given a first hand look at the level required to be at the top of the Hyundai A-League table after going down 3-1 to the Central Coast Mariners in the battle of the top two tonight.

Adelaide United FC has been given a first hand look at the level required to be at the top of the Hyundai A-League table after going down 3-1 to the Central Coast Mariners in the battle of the top two tonight.

Throughout the lead up Coach John Kosmina emphasised the importance of handling the pressure in what loomed as a ‘six point- game, but despite taking a 39th minute lead thanks to Daniel Bowles- debut goal for the club, the Reds found themselves largely outplayed by the classy competition pacesetters.

The Mariners created a mountain of chances in the opening 45 minutes but could not capitalise on their dominance until Mitchell Duke came off the bench to score twice within four minutes to put them in front before Michael McGlinchey sealed all three points for the home side in the 88th minute.

Adding to the disappointment of the result is that Jeronimo Neumann will miss next Sunday-s match against Western Sydney Wanderers after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season.

“They (the Mariners) deserved it, they-re a good side…you can-t argue about that,” Kosmina said afterwards.

“We just turned the ball over way too easily in the first half and they were turnovers that were completely unpressured at times and for the life of me I couldn-t work out why.”

“Maybe the pressure is starting to get to us. There was a lot of discussion about this game being a six pointer, we need to go top of the table and can we handle it.”

Attempting to record their first points against the Mariners in seven games, the Reds started shakily, a dangerous back pass from Bowles in just the 2nd minute almost letting the league-s leading scorer Daniel McBreen in.

Another wasted McBreen chance minutes later sounded ominous warnings for the Reds, the Mariners going on to create an avalanche of opportunities but somehow not managing to find the back of the net.

The returning Berni Ibini was wreaking havoc down the right and he put the ball on a plate for Oliver Bozanic only to see Eugene Galekovic reel off a remarkable point blank save.

Soon after McBreen hit the post before Nigel Boogaard produced a timely diving intercept from another Mariners attack as the Reds were hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

Neumann came agonisingly close to giving the Reds the lead as he met a Bowles cross in the 35th minute, Mat Ryan doing enough to keep the chance out.

Then against the run of play Bowles bobbed up with a stunning goal, his first in a Reds shirt, as he cut inside from the right and as Bozanic turned to shield himself from the shot, the ball brushed him giving it enough of a deflection to sneak it inside Ryan-s far post and into the net.

The goal and a stern half time chat from Kosmina helped produce a more composed Reds at the start of the second half, Boogaard and Antony Golec continuing to hold firm at the back.

But an inspired substitution from Central Coast Coach Graham Arnold turned the game in the Mariners- favour as Duke netted a quick fire double.

The youngster made it 1-1 when his quick thinking in the penalty saw him beat Galekovic as the tide turned back towards the Mariners.

A minute later the Mariners were awarded a penalty for a handball against Bowles but a fired up Galekovic did magnificently diving to his right to keep out McBreen-s spot kick.

But the United skipper-s inspiration was wasted when Duke produced a clinical finish to make it 2-1 and put the Mariners in the box seat.

Argentine Marcelo Carrusca was injected into the game and showed a sense of urgency as the Reds chased an equaliser, but the best efforts of him and fellow subs Jake Barker-Daish and Jon McKain proved to no avail when McGlinchey was perfectly placed to knock home a squaring header from Nick Fitzgerald with not long remaining.

“There-s a reason they-re top and we-re not (but) having said that we turned the ball over way too cheaply in the first half,” Kosmina said.

“We defended with desperation, Eugene made a couple of good stops but if you keep turning the ball over like that you-re going to build pressure on yourself and eventually you-re going to start to feel the pinch physically and mentally.”

The Reds return home for a huge fortnight against fellow top four sides Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory in the next fortnight.

Match Details Central Coast Mariners 3 (Duke 68-/72-, McGlinchey 88-) Adelaide United FC 1 (Bowles 39-) Referee: Peter O'Leary Crowd: 8,294 @ Bluetongue Stadium

Central Coast Mariners starting line-up: 1.Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2.Daniel McBreen, 3.Joshua Rose, 4.Pedj Bojic, 5.Zachary Anderson, 6.Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7.John Hutchinson (c), 9.Bernie Ibini (26.Nick Fitzgerald 82'), 11.Oliver Bozanic (19.Mitchell Duke 61-), 14.Michael McGlinchey, 18.Nick Montgomery Substitutes not used: 13.Brent Griffiths, 20.Justin Pasfield (gk) Yellow Cards: Montgomery 46-, Zwaanswijk 83- Red Cards: Nil

Adelaide United starting line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 6.Cassio, 10.Dario Vidosic, 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 16.Daniel Bowles, 17.Iain Ramsay (8.Marcelo Carrusca 79'), 18.Fabian Barbiero, 21.Jeronimo Neumann (19.Jake Barker-Daish 68'), 23.Evan Kostopoulos (4.Jon McKain 75-) Substitutes not used: 20.Paul Izzo (gk) Yellow Cards: Neumann 45+1- Red Cards: Nil