Beating the Mariners just isn’t what it used to be. When you think about some of the memories this stadium holds it is sober realisation to think two of the best teams of A-league old are now two of the most bleak in the league.
The players walking out to a song that means nothing to this team really doesn’t help lift my mood heading into Suncorp for this game after the disappointing run we have had so far this season.
The difference compared to some of our old squads is in the tactics with this side, we’re less direct, less effective with more men consolidating the back line and less pressing forward. No longer do we play the overlapping winger, now our attacking winger plays as a wing back and puts in useless cross after useless cross to a striker not at all aerially gifted.
The first half tonight had echoes of those championship winning sides, the direct, artful passing of old with our midfield pressing high on the Central Coast backline, Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Roy O’Donovan taking a number of shots throughout the first half. Amazing how many shots we manage to take when DWH starts.
As much as I am irked by him playing out of position, the lad can fire on the wing as well as in the centre of the park, gifted and adaptable. He created a whole set of chances, dribbling directly through the Mariners defence before putting in a cross or taking a shot himself. He forced a number of remarkable saves from Birighitti who always seemed to get his body in the way. If not for his performance and some last ditch, very risky but perfectly timed sliding clearances from CB Gordon, the scoreline could have been far more embarrassing. Seeing Gordon slide in with some crunching but amazingly timed tackles really made me miss Papadopolous for Roar, with his long crazed runs across the length of the field to catch a striker at the last second, and somehow keeping it so clean to not be a card.
Birighitti was not the only keeper on the field to put in a good shift, Jamie Young was finally given his chance to prove why he should never have lost his #1 spot, and believe me; he should never have lost his spot. He was the best keeper in the league by a huge margin last season, I think it was not just us Roar fans that were perplexed by Fowler’s decision to bring in fresh blood between the sticks. Jamie is the keeper for big games and big saves, he proved that again tonight. In this game alone, Young made more big saves than Crocombe (the new lad) has the entire season, managing to give us just our second clean sheet of the season, our first being in the batshit boring nil-all draw against WSW in round 2. I will never understand how he lost his spot to begin with, the man really is a human wall.
At the other end of the pitch, Roy O’Donovan managed to take advantage of the chances DWH was creating, slotting one home to open the scoring. I know we all lay into him about being shit even though he has scored 5 in 7, but it’s mostly because he’s lazy when he isn’t in front of goal. Stark contrast with DWH who constantly works hard, even getting back to defend tonight when Fowler decided to switch us back to a god awful 5 at the back situation. Having 4 at the back and allowing the backline to push up the field was really working for us, for some reason Robbie decided to change that halfway through the second half. Allowing the back 4 to push high put Scott Neville on the score sheet converting a beautifully delivered corner with his head straight into the back of the net.
This was about the only set piece we managed to pull off tonight. Some of the set piece lowlights include, O’Shea and Gillesphy not being able to decide who’s taking the kick only for one to run off then get called back and take the kick about 15 seconds after the whistle; a really confusing free kick outside the penalty area that got passed to just about everyone on the team before anyone kicked the damn thing; and of course an endless amount of useless short corners. I can never truly express my hatred of short corners. Please leave these drills at the training park, save our eyes the pain.
Somehow we managed to hold out until the final whistle, the most frightening moment of the game was Kim’s shot ricocheting off the underside of the crossbar, physics was on our side tonight.
At the end of the day, it really was a relief and pleasant surprise to get the win. Even though it was only a win against Mariners and I definitely shouldn’t get my hopes too high, it was nice to see some spark in the team that hadn’t really been there before tonight.
Jamie Young and DWH must start every week, don’t fuck with me again Fowler.
By Kianna Aquilina