A 47th minute header from Bernie Ibini has seen Adelaide United FC go down 1-0 to the league leaders.
A 47th minute header from Central Coast Mariners striker Bernie Ibini has seen Adelaide United FC go down 1-0 to the league leaders at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.
In the penultimate weekend of the minor round, the Reds were out to try and end a four game losing streak against the Mariners while also looking to take some winning form into Tuesday night-s AFC Champions League showdown with Gamba Osaka at Hindmarsh Stadium.
However, despite creating a host of first half chances, the Reds succumbed to Ibini-s goal just after half time.
While disappointed to again take it up to the league-s top team away from home only to be beaten narrowly, it provided a solid and valuable hit out for the Reds ahead of their game against Gamba in three days time.
Furthermore, pleasingly on the injury front the Reds came away from the contest largely unscathed, with only winger Iain Ramsay coming off early because a corked thigh.
The Mariners may have been the ones with the chance to secure the Premier-s Plate at home going into the game but it was United who started the brighter.
The Reds manufactured two shots on target in the opening five minutes, some slick footwork from Dario Vidosic leading to the Reds- number 10 firing a left footed shot that forced Mathew Ryan into a save before a Bruce Djite header two minutes later after neat work from Ramsay and Antony Golec was also kept out by the Mariners keeper.
Nigel Boogaard was the next to come close as a pinpoint Vidosic free kick found the Reds defender unmarked in the 14th minute, but his looping header was tipped over the bar by Ryan.
Practising the way they will aim to play against Gamba on Tuesday, the Reds were finding gaps out wide and Ramsay nearly caught the Mariners out in the 31st minute, however his could not get his effort from an acute angle on target.
Four minutes later the Reds almost produced a repeat of last week-s end to end goal against the Roar as Osama Malik, Bruce Djite and Vidosic all combined again to expose the Mariners at the back, the only thing lacking being the finish as Vidosic blazed his shot over the bar.
Other than not finding the back of the net, Coach John Kosmina had reason to be relatively pleased at the break, the Reds- shape and defence doing well as the Mariners struggled to get any real fluency going.
However, Kosmina would not have liked what he saw two minutes after the restart as the Mariners caught the Reds napping, Pedj Bojic doing enough to eventually send a ball in from the right to the far post where Ibini was perfectly positioned to fid the back of the net giving a previously untroubled Eugene Galekovic no chance.
The goal was a kick in the teeth for the Reds, who were now forced to come from behind. While they could have possibly been excused for already having an eye on Tuesday-s game against Gamba, the Reds continued try and find openings, although the next chance to come fell to Michael McGlinchey, who went inches from giving the Mariners a second when his free kick hit the woodwork in the 57th minute.
Still searching for his 50th Hyundai A-League goal, substitute Sergio van Dijk was presented with a promising opportunity from a free kick just outside the penalty area, but he crashed his effort into the wall.
Knowing it was the final chance to try some different combinations before Gamba on Tuesday, Kosmina took the opportunity to make some positional changes, putting Vidosic to the left and giving Daniel Mullen a run in midfield, while he also gave some game time to Jacob Melling.
Late on, Galekovic produced an exceptional reflex save to deny Patrick Zwaanswijk in stoppage time, ensuring the deficit remained only one at the final whistle.
“I thought it was solid, they (the Mariners) couldn-t break us down in the first half. They tried and the only trouble we got in was stuff we caused ourselves,” Kosmina said in reflecting on the performance.
“In the first half we were unlucky not to be a couple in front, and in the second half we conceded early and I think that rattled us and then we made a couple of substitutions back to back so it took us a little while to get our rhythm back, but when we did it looked good.”
“We played guys out of position, Dario played on the left which he has only done once this season, Daniel Mullen played higher up and he hasn-t done that since he was 16, so all in all it was a good performance.”
It was not the ideal result for the Reds, but with Hyundai A-League finals out of the question, the emphasis is undoubtedly on making it two wins from as many starts in the AFC Champions League when Gamba Osaka come to Hindmarsh on Tuesday night. Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ibini 47-)
Adelaide United FC 0
Referee: Ben Williams
Crowd: 7,275 @ Bluetongue Stadium
Central Coast Mariners line-up: 1.Mathew Ryan (Gk), 3.Joshua Rose, 4.Pedj Bojic, 6.Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7.John Hutchinson, 9.Bernie Ibini (12.Troy Hearfield 82-), 11.Oliver Bozanic, 14.Michael McGlinchey, 18.Alex Wilkinson (C), 19.John Sutton (23.Adam Kwasnik 66-), 22.Mustafa Amini (17.Tomas Rogic 88-)
Substitutes not used: 20.Justin Pasfield (Gk)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 2.Osama Malik (15.Jacob Melling 66-), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain, 5.Daniel Mullen, 7.Zenon Caravella, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite (9.Sergio van Dijk 56-), 12.Antony Golec, 17.Iain Ramsay (14.Cameron Watson 50′), 21.Francisco Usucar
Substitutes not used: 20.Mark Birighitti (gk)
Yellow Cards: Golec 19-, Caravella 86-, Galekovic 90-, Boogaard 90+3-
Red Cards: Nil