Despite taking this game to the A-League team from Gosford, South Coast Wolves went down by a single goal that was scored close to a quarter of hour in. The team tried valiantly throughout, endeavouring to claw back on equal footing with their season long fitness in the second half, but the Central Coast Mariners had done enough at this early start to their season to take home the spoils with their sharpness and speed on the ball when they needed it the most. Glenn Trifiro was the scorer in a well-executed attacking foray.
With this high profile match being the penultimate encounter in the FFA Cup Round of 32, owing to the Western Australia time difference (Bayswater City v Melbourne Victory), this third match, only one in four involving A League clubs playing lesser division teams, continued before a 5,238 enthousiastic crowd (and to date the largest crowd for an FFA Cup match) at WIN Stadium Wollongong. Despite having rain in the days leading up to this fixture, the night went off without a hitch with a cast of hundreds being involved in the half time Wolf chase to further entertain the crowd.
The game breaker was scored after thirteen minutes. Mariner Joshua Rose sprinted into the box in possession from the left before delivering a slick pass in between central defenders Michael Robinson and James Baldacchino to Glenn Trifiro. The former Premier League (with Sydney United) midfielder subsequently slotted the ball low into the far corner of the goal beating a despairing Wolves’ goalkeeper Daniel Collison.
The Wolves kicked off and ran towards the southern end being quick off the blocks. Peter Simonoski made headway and crossed in from the left. Sam Matthews wanted to get on the end of it but unfortunately his effort was all in vain. The Mariners captain Nic Montgomery picked up a Zac Mackenzie pass from midfield before Jack Keating dealt with the pressure from Mitchell Duke, who with his speed was causing all sorts of problems. A tussle for the ball involving Matthew Bailey and Isaka Cernak finally culminated with a free kick to the Wolves.
The Wolves had much of the early skirmishes before the Mariners settled into a rhythm and became more productive in the middle stages of the first half.
A long pass from the back by Eddie Bosnar looked to home in on Australian international Duke but the Wolves defence were wise to this ploy and intervened. Bosnar tried again a couple of minutes later for the same result before Duke spreaded the ball out to Rose on the left. His tantalizing cross flew in before Robinson intercepted by heading away. At the other end Keating put in a cross that Mariners goalkeeper, Liam Reddy took with ease.
Following a Bailey corner kick, Robinson shouldered the ball on for Baldacchino and in a crowded goalmouth, the ball narrowly popped over.
On twenty minutes coach Arrarte from the sidelines implored his team to move up as they were sitting back and letting the Mariners dictate play through Anthony Caceres, who was pivotal in Mariners’ moves.
In the 26th minute Mariner’s Nick Fitzgerald was in position to further his club’s lead. Cernak feigned, for the ball to fall for Nick Fitzgerald. Baldacchino blocked his effort, which was destined for the goal. Immediately prior, Robinson with deft feet eluded the on rushing Duke.
Matthews cleared a shot by Bosnar off the line before the goal frame kept out Duke’s angled shot as he sped into space. Four minutes later, the goal frame aided the Wolves once again as a Fitzgerald free kick shot cannoned into the defensive wall then defected off the cross bar.
Duke was carrying all before him as he moved in between the lines. Robinson blocked one of targeted efforts before Collison dived at his feet of Fitzgerald. A Bailey free kick was lifted over before Robinson cleared off the line as Duke stormed in. From close vicinity, he stuck, but in the nick of time Robinson was there.
Chris Price on the left collected a good cross field Joseph Lavalle pass. He moved inward inside a defender before letting a right-footed shot go. It however, traversed straight into Reddy’s arms.
The Wolves started and finished strongly in the final part of the first half to combat the Mariners middle stages superiority.
At half time it was 1-0 and former Wolves and Mariners player Mile Sterjovski was presented to the crowd.
The second half began the second half with a rush after the half time substitution of Jordan Murray for Lavalle. Murray was instantly into the fray as he chased down to ball to win a corner kick seconds in. From the ensuing Bailey’s corner kick, Anderson blocked Matthew’s shot.
The home side had their closest opportunity following Murray’s pass to Matthews. The midfielder’s forth-coming shot looked to be home and hosed until a lunging Montgomery somehow managed to keep it out.
The Wolves were chasing down effectively. Price surged down to the left before putting a cross in but to no effect in the end before Simonoski nearly dispossessed Anderson to set him on his way. Matthews aimed to slip Murray through but the Mariners defence thwarted this enterprising move.
Murray, whose enthusiastic approach on being brought into the match took it to some tiring Mariners, produced a sizzling shot on 68 minutes from outside the box that zoomed to the left of goal and over. It definitely was worth the effort.
Mariners coach Phil Moss injected Senegalese and on loan Swedish club Gothenburg striker Malick Mane into the game for his first start in the navy and yellow in the hunt for more goals. Also he brought the fresh John Hutchison on to aid the leg weary defence. Manet looked to get in before Robinson headed away. Not long later, Manet powered down the left before letting fly with his left foot, which flew high. Another shot
In time added on Matthews had the goal in his sights. Unfortunately, taking two touches was one touch too many as the defence had a chance to regroup and block his effort. Moments before, a Simonoski rocket whizzed narrowly past the post at an angle.
Manet motored forward in one last throw of the dice. Robinson was in close attendance before Manet fired wide.
As generally accepted, the Central Coast Mariners were favorites for this encounter and they were somewhat sharper especially in the goal execution. The Wolves gave it their all and a fairytale Cup upset was not forthcoming. They were beaten but not unbowed.
Wolves’ coach Nahuel Arrarte in my post match interview stated – ‘we always knew that they were in their preseason and early days so we tried to go at them straight from the whistle to keep them scoreless as long as possible and capitalize on our match fitness. Unfortunately, it did not go our way. I can’t fault the boys they gave it everything and left everything out there. I’m very proud’ … ‘it’s great experience for the young boys to see what the next level is like. We gave it a real shake and from my end, but I’m not happy to have lost but happy with the effort.’
Wolves captain Matthew Bailey in an on the pitch interview responded by saying – ‘it is a little bit disappointing obviously but we have to put it in perspective. Central Coast was very well prepared they were sharp right across the park. In the second half, we showed we could match them in some a parts and had some chances but unfortunately we could not convert. …It took us awhile to adjust to the pace of the game but credit to the boys we really dug deep. It was a good performance but not the result we wanted’.
The after match press conference was attended by Central Coast Mariners coach Phil Moss together with goal scorer Glenn Trifiro. In part, this is what they had to say -
Phil Moss - ‘I was really happy for the boys because they worked ever so hard. I think we showed glimpses of real quality in the first half, and fatigue got the better of us.’ About the opposition….’there are good quality players there and they played pretty well as a team. It was a close encounter and that is Cup football. They were match fit and match hardened and to keep a clean sheet was crucial (for us). Our players were pushing through the pain barrier in the second half but I’m happy with the outing.’
Glenn Trifiro –‘Credit to them. They really pushed us.’
SOUTH COAST WOLVES.….…………..0
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS.……..1
Glen Trifiro 13’
@ WIN STADIUM, WOLLONGONG
Wednesday 20th August 2014
7.30 p.m. Kick Off
SOUTH COAST WOLVES F.C.
Coach: Nahuel Arrarte
1.Daniel Collison 2.Jack Keating 4.Michael Robinson 5.James Baldacchino 15.Darcy Madden 6.Zac Mackenzie 8.Matthew Bailey (Capt.) (10.Ben Zucco 69’) 7.Chris Price (11.Mitchell Del Turco 81’) 9.Peter Simonoski 20.Joseph Lavalle (Jordan Murray 46’) 22. Sam Matthews
Substitutes not used: 30 Thomas Hamilton 3.Chris Nathaniel
Yellow Cards: Joseph Lavalle 5’ Zac Mackenzie 14’ Michael Robinson 19’
Red Cards: Nil
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Coach: Phil Moss
12. Liam Reddy 3. Joshua Rose 2. Storm Roux 5. Zac Anderson 25. Eddie Bosnar 18. Glenn Trifiro (7. John Hutchison 66’) 8. Nick Montgomery (Capt.)17.Adrian Caceres 23. Isaka Cernak (14.Malick Mane 65’) 9. Mitchell Duke 11. Nick Fitzgerald
Substitutes not used:1.Beyhan Irmako, 15. Matthew Sim 18.Michael Neill
Yellow Cards: Eddie Bosnar 5’, Glenn Trifiro
Red Card: Nil
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev, James Tesoriero
Fourth Official: Luke Withell
By Malcolm Rowney
Photo by Pedro Garcia