Adelaide United FC has come agonisingly close to claiming the scalp of the Central Coast Mariners, only to go down 3-2 at Bluetongue Stadium.
Adelaide United FC has come agonisingly close to claiming the scalp of the Central Coast Mariners, only to finish up on the wrong side of a 3-2 score line at Bluetongue Stadium.
The Reds gave the league leaders an almighty fright when dynamic strike duo Sergio van Dijk and Bruce Djite both found the back of the net within the space of three minutes to give United a 2-1 lead at the break.
But the Mariners clawed their way back with two goals in four minutes in the second half to hold off United-s challenge, the Reds suffering their first loss in five games and first defeat since Coach John Kosmina took charge.
In a match that ebbed and flowed, the Reds could well count themselves unlucky not to take at least a point from the contest as they appeared a confident and composed outfit going forward, particularly in the first half, while they also went without reward despite creating chances in the second 45 minutes.
Kosmina admits losing a game in that fashion is a tough pill to swallow, but knew that with the amount of experience in the Mariners- team, it was always going to be a tough ask.
“It always is but 2-1 is a dangerous score. You-re always at risk of copping one and then you get another one on the bounce, that-s the way the game goes,” Kosmina said.
“I think we played pretty well. We dropped off a little bit in the second half and probably didn-t really do the things we did well in the first half as often as we should of done, so you pay a price for that against an experienced side.”
“They got to 2-2 and we went up the other end and hit two posts, and then they go down the other end for 3-2.”
“I don-t like losing so I-m not happy about that but you look at the football side of it and you-ve got to be happy with the way they knocked the ball around in the first half and the way we went about our business.”
It was the home side that struck first when Daniel McBreen headed home a Pedj Bojic cross in the 15th minute to start the ball rolling, but unlike the last time the sides met, which resulted in the flood gates opening when the Central Coast went ahead at Hindmarsh back in Week 9, the Reds were back on level terms within 60 seconds.
Fabian Barbiero picked out van Dijk with a clever cross from the left and the Reds- marksman did brilliantly to bring the ball under control before producing some sublime footwork to evade Patrick Zwaanswijk and beat Mariners keeper Mat Ryan from just outside the six yard box, making it five goals in four games for the prolific Dutchman.
If the Reds were delighted to have drawn level, they would have been ecstatic three minutes later when a long throw in from Cameron Watson was superbly judged by Djite, the striker positioning himself expertly to hold off Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson, put the ball to his own advantage and send a left footed shot past Ryan.
Djite and Dario Vidosic had chances to extend the lead as the Reds dominated possession but it remained 2-1 at the break.
The Reds were made to withstand a more determined Mariners outfit in a second half which contained high drama at both ends and could possibly have seen the result got a different way.
A swift Reds counter that had Vidosic in acres of space on the right was foiled by the linesman-s flag for a close offside call on Djite, and having escaped the danger, the Mariners drew level as substitute Adam Kwasnik fired the ball past Galekovic from an acute angle.
But the telling moments of the match would follow minutes later. Van Dijk went millimetres from restoring United-s advantage when his close range right footed strike saw Ryan somehow get a hand to it, the ball hitting the inside of the post and rolling back along the goal line before Ryan was able to collect it.
If that was hard to take, less than a minute later the Mariners found a winner, Galekovic coming up with an excellent save to deny McBreen but Josh Rose was the first to pounce on the rebound and the left back hammered the ball into the back of the net.
It may have not been the result the Reds were after, but more than mixing it with the Hyundai A-League-s number one team is sure to be another valuable learning curve for a Reds squad on the rise.
The Reds will stay in Sydney tonight before making the trip to Bathurst tomorrow for a midweek fixture against the Newcastle Jets on Wednesday.
Match Details Central Coast Mariners 3 (McBreen 15-, Kwasnik 74-, Rose 78-) Adelaide United FC 2 (van Dijk 16-, Djite 19-) Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones Crowd: 7,478 @ Bluetongue Stadium
Central Coast Mariners line-up: 1.Mathew Ryan (gk), 2.Daniel McBreen, 3.Joshua Rose, 4.Pedj Bojic, 6.Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7.John Hutchinson (11.Oliver Bozanic 61-), 8.Rostyn Griffiths, 9.Bernie Ibini (23.Adam Kwasnik 56-), 14.Michael McGlinchey, 17.Tomas Rogic (12.Troy Hearfield 67-), 18.Alex Wilkinson (c)
Substitutes not used: 20.Justin Pasfield (gk) Yellow Cards: Rose 28-, Hutchinson 59- Red Cards: Nil
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 2.Osama Malik, 3.Nigel Boogaard, 5.Daniel Mullen, 7.Zenon Caravella, 9.Sergio van Dijk, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite (17.Iain Ramsay 74-), 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 18.Fabian Barbiero (15.Jacob Melling 59-)
Substitutes not used: 20.Mark Birighitti (gk), 21.Francisco Usucar Yellow Cards: Vidosic 79- Red Cards: Nil