Reds unable to shake off Mariners hoodoo

Adelaide United FC has been given a glimpse of what will be required to seriously challenge for the Hyundai A-League title following a 2-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners.

Adelaide United FC has been given a glimpse of what will be required to seriously challenge for the Hyundai A-League title following a 2-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.

While the result extended the number of consecutive wins for the Mariners over the Reds to eight matches, the home side will take a lot out of the hit out against one of the league-s genuine championship contenders.

Coming to Adelaide knowing they had to win to keep their hopes of a second straight Premier-s Plate alive, potent striker Daniel McBreen-s 4th minute goal gave the Mariners the best possible start as they proceeded to put their defensive and organisational prowess to full use in order to prevent the Reds from getting back into the game.

As United Coach Michael Valkanis said post match, the Reds ‘huffed and puffed-, particularly in an improved second half display, but they could not blow the Mariners house over.

One only had to look at the Reds- results against the Mariners over the past three years to know it was always going to be an extremely difficult assignment, and it was made even tougher just three minutes in when Oliver Bozanic unlocked United-s defence and opened the door for McBreen.

Bozanic slipped a neat ball into the path of McBreen and the marksman showed why he has led the league-s scoring for much of the season as he expertly put his shot past young goalkeeper Paul Izzo. Not the start the Reds or Izzo, who was making just his third Hyundai A-League appearance, were after.

There was not a lot for the home supporters to get excited about in the opening 45 minutes as a well organised, well drilled and compact Mariners unit was preventing the Reds from having any real chances to test keeper Justin Pasfield.

Bozanic-s effort in the 20th minute, whether intended as a shot or a cross, had Izzo retreating and needing to tip the ball over the bar to keep the deficit at one as it came tantalisingly close to sneaking in.

The closest the Reds came in the first half was when some quick feet from Jeronimo Neumann on the right allowed him to send in a dangerous cross but again the Mariners defence was up to the challenge.

After Valkanis made a tactical change at the break, replacing Tomi Juric with winger Fabio Ferreira and moving Dario Vidosic into a more central attacking role, the Reds began testing the Mariners- mettle with more effect.

In the 54th minute an equaliser was inches away as Neumann was just denied by Pasfield after the Argentine looked certain to make it 1-1 as he connected on the end of an Iain Ramsay cross.

Doing his best to try and lift the Reds, Ramsay then tried his own luck as he unleashed an audacious volley from the edge of the penalty area in the 59th minute that Pasfield could only watch as it cannoned into the crossbar.

Ferreira was also providing a spark on the right with his pace and intent to try and get past defenders, the Reds continued to probe but the Mariners refused to buckle.

Izzo came up with two fine saves to help keep the Reds in what a chance of salvaging something from the contest as he firstly did well to swat away a close range Ibini effort after a goalmouth scramble before diving well to his right to deny Mitchell Duke on the counter.

But at the other end, despite Bruce Djite coming on for the final 15 minutes in his return from an ankle injury, the Reds could not break the Central Coast down as the Mariners demonstrated why they have lost fewer games than any other club this season.

A goal in the final minute from substitute Mile Sterjovski ensured all of the points were heading back to Gosford, leaving the Reds- attention to turn to a final round showdown away against a Perth Glory team that will be trying to secure a finals berth.

Valkanis was left to rue conceding an early goal which meant his team was always going to face an uphill battle, but at the same time did not believe the score line truly reflected what transpired over the course of the 90 minutes.

“We conceded a sloppy goal in the first three minutes, a goal we should never have conceded, but at least in the second half the performance was a lot better,” Valkanis said.

“The result wasn-t the best and if you take away the goal we conceded in the first three minutes, what else did the Mariners do…they played a lot of long balls and tried to turn us around, so that-s something we have to look at how we combat that if we meet teams like that in the finals.”

“Especially in the second half we did well and there were moments when we thought, we-re on top of them and we probably will get a goal, and I felt if we got one we would have probably got a second.”

“In the end the end result doesn-t describe how the game went. We lost and we-re disappointed but we probably didn-t deserve to lose 2-nil.”

For the Easter Saturday clash with Perth, the Reds will welcome back captain Eugene Galekovic from Socceroos duty, while Marcelo Carrusca is also a strong chance of returning from a minor groin injury. However, defender Nigel Boogaard will miss the match after receiving his eighth yellow card of the season meaning a subsequent one match suspension.

Match Details Adelaide United FC 0 Central Coast Mariners 2 (McBreen 4-, Sterjovski 90+2-) Referee: Shaun Evans Crowd: 8,069 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United starting line-up: 20.Paul Izzo (gk), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain, 5.Iain Fyfe, 6.Cassio (c), 10.Dario Vidosic, 14.Cameron Watson, 17.Iain Ramsay, 19.Jake Barker-Daish, 21.Jeronimo Neumann (11.Bruce Djite 74-), 25.Tomi Juric (22.Fabio Ferreira 46') Substitutes not used: 18.Fabian Barbiero, 30.John Hall (gk) Yellow Cards: McKain 45-, Boogaard 77- Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners line-up: 20.Justin Pasfield (gk), 2.Daniel McBreen, 3.Joshua Rose, 5.Zachary Anderson, 6.Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7.John Hutchinson (c), 9.Bernie Ibini, 11.Oliver Bozanic (29.Nick Fitzgerald 72-), 16.Trent Sainsbury, 18.Nick Montgomery, 19.Mitchell Duke (21.Mile Sterjovski 90+2') Substitutes not used: 13.Brent Griffiths, 30.David Bradasevic (gk) Yellow Cards: Nil Red Cards: Nil