I don’t want to write this article because I don’t want to relive this game.
I like that the Central Coast Mariners usually show fight and that the Brisbane Roar seem to be on a non-losing streak. I think that this will be one of those games that’s about the magic of football where, though both teams are miles away from the top of the table, they still try their hardest, have a good time and learn about themselves and each other, emerging as better people afterward and as will we for having watched it. Not so.
Early signs are good, with Brisbane sprinting ahead each time they have the ball, a ferocious energy unmatched by the chill Mariners. Josh Nisbet starts for the Mariners and Scott McDonald laces up for the Roar for the first time after abdicating from Western United just a week or two ago.
The Roar has two goal attempts in the first 3 minutes, the Mariners following with two of their own in the 8th and 9th. Mariner Ziggy Gordon pulls off a miraculous slide to clear the ball in the 16th minute, before Brisbane’s Scott Neville heads it into goal a minute later but is ruled offside.
I tune out for a second and then back in to see Jacob Pepper with a streak of red running the length of his hair:
Me: What is this ridiculous, latest hair style from Brisbane?
Also me: Oh, he’s split his head open and it’s actual blood streaming down his head from a knock.
Robbie Fowler seems to have forgotten to introduce Scott McDonald to Brad Inman because each time they link up they treat each other like they’re strangers and don’t know what to do. What if God was one of us? He’d probably do that drill in training where you force everyone to use each other’s names to learn them so they’re not left bereft on the pitch.
Jordan Murray nearly gets a good goal for the Mariners in the 23rd minute. He’s probably their best player today with a legitimately good effort in the second half, countered by a legitimately good save by Jamie Young. Brisbane keeps getting called offside, wasting their pace and position on a relentlessly humid day.
Every time either team tries something, it’s matched by the other doing the same. At halftime I try to diagnose the problem: Brisbane are definitely being outplayed by the Mariners, but the Mariners don’t have that killer instinct that can do anything with it. Neither team can finish. You know how some games you can sense a goal coming? There’s a goal here, you think to yourself, and sit up a little straighter, start breathing a little shallower, and feel vindicated when someone converts? This game doesn’t feel like that. There’s nothing for us here.
The second half starts and I feel a palpable regret. There are lots of shots from both teams sent directly to both keepers. Which is one way to play. Even Matt Simon can’t breathe any interest into the game.
There’s an amazing series of moments in the 60th minute near the Brisbane goal when Lewis Miller feeds the ball to Milan Duric who passes it to Danny De Silva who heads the ball straight into the left post, it rebounds, Jordan Murray deflects it to Tommy Oar who shoots it straight at Jamie Young who saves it, clears it, Brisbane take it up the other end and they, too, can’t score. Just a bunch of impotent men in the box.
In the very bitter end, a Corey Brown shot gets deflected off Lewis Miller past Birighitti putting Brisbane 1-0. But they don’t deserve it. Nobody deserves a goal in this game. There are no winners here. The whistle blows and we haven’t learned anything we didn’t already know, which is that an all-star team of Roar and Mariner players could mount a decent charge at a mid-league position on an A-League table.\
By Kelly Simpson