United frustrated by Mariners
12:49 PM Sat 16th Jan, 2010 - Admin
Adelaide United FC desperate for all three points, has been made to settle for a 1-1 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight, against a Central Coast Mariners side equally looking for a valuable three points.

The Reds showed the intent and desire of a team trying to keep their finals dreams alive, but again they could not produce the killer blow after being forced to come from a goal down.

A 39th minute penalty from Mariners striker Nik Mrdja gave the visitors the lead, before United Captain Travis Dodd made it two goals from as many games with an equaliser in the 43rd minute, with an entertaining match failing to find a winner.

The result could have gone either way, as has been the case for much of the season, the Reds created chances without reward, while goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic again proved why he is in Australia’s World Cup calculations as he pulled off a number of critical saves.

Coach Aurelio Vidmar conceded a point makes it an uphill battle to finish in the top six, Tuesday’s home match against Perth Glory now becoming the most important match of United’s season.

“A draw is not good for us at this stage. We plugged away, worked very hard to try and find a winner but unfortunately we just came up a bit short,” Vidmar said.

Vidmar admitted the Reds were not on the ball in the opening half, admitting the final pass in the attacking third again proved costly.

“We gave them far too much space in the first half, our quality on the ball was quite poor. We rectified that in the second half, so the goal for us probably came at the right time just before half time,” Vidmar said.

“The second half I thought the pressure and the effort was good but we just lacked that bit of difference in the front third.”

“We tried a little bit more in terms of having a fair bit of the play, but pulling the trigger at the right times just didn’t happen.”

Both sides’ desperate need for three points was evident from the kick-off, as the contest went from end to end, both defences put under early pressure.

The first opportunity fell to the Mariners in the 12th minute when Mrdja managed to hold off Mark Rudan in the penalty area, his shot deflecting off Galekovic and going just wide of the post.

Imposing striker Lloyd Owusu was back in the starting eleven for the first time since Round 10, and he nearly marked his return with a goal in the 15th minute, his thunderous header from a Lucas Pantelis free kick flying narrowly over the bar.

In the 19th minute Galekovic was called into action, as his outstretched boot was enough to keep out a close range effort from Dean Heffernan.

The end to end football continued, United having claims for a handball waved away in the 29th minute, before Cassio unleashed a fierce low drive forcing a save from Mariners keeper Danny Vukovic.

But with United pressing, it was the Mariners that drew first blood when they were awarded a penalty for a Cassio challenge in the 37th minute, Mrdja converting from the spot to put the Central Coast in front.

Finding themselves behind again at home, United’s resolve was again tested, but unlike the majority of previous matches where the Reds have been behind, their response was swift as they equalised four minutes later.

Owusu received the ball at the top of the area, the former Ghana international laying it off for Dodd on the right leaving the captain with time to take a touch, pick his spot and send it across Vukovic into the back of the net.

A dipping Cassio free kick was tipped over the bar by Vukovic as the Reds lifted the tempo, but there was no further addition to the score at the break.

Dodd had a great chance to add a second, but he mistimed his shot making it easy for Vukovic to collect. That would be the last action for Dodd, as he was replaced by Korean Insoeb Shin, having received a solid knock on the hip from Adelaide bound defender Nigel Boogaard in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

A deft flick from Mrdja went just wide, to nearly restore the lead for the Mariners on the hour mark, the three points remaining up for grabs.

The big right hand of Galekovic then kept out Brad Porter as the Central Coast tried to hit the Reds on the counter, the goalkeeper again proving an impenetrable force, as he reeled off a couple of crucial saves to keep the homes side level.

Shin and Pantelis combined to almost steal the win, before Reds defender Iain Fyfe made a vital block in the 88th minute, as Mrdja looked to pull the trigger with the Mariners starting to find gaps in the United defence.

But the three minutes of added time could not split the teams, the Reds again left to contemplate what might have been.

Adelaide United has little time to reflect on the result, as they must now back up for another crucial home match on Tuesday against Perth Glory, the team currently occupying sixth spot four points ahead of United.

Tickets for the match against the Glory are available through Venue*Tix (call 8225 8888, online at

Match Details

Adelaide United FC 1 (Dodd 43’)

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Mrdja (pen) 39’)

Referee: Chris Beath

Crowd: 10,156 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 11.Lloyd OWUSU (9.CRISTIANO 79’), 13.Travis DODD (c) (16.Inseob SHIN 56’), 17.Michael MARRONE, 18.Fabian BARBIERO (10.Adam HUGHES 63’), 19.Mathew LECKIE, 21.Mark RUDAN

Substitutes not used: 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk)

Yellow Cards: Hughes 66’, Pantelis 67’, Cassio 67’

Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners line-up: 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4.Pedj BOJIC, 5.Brad PORTER, 7.John HUTCHINSON, 8.Dean HEFFERNAN, 9.Nik MRDJA, 15.Andrew CLARK (16.Nigel BOOGAARD 66’), 17.Chris DOIG, 18.Alex WILKINSON (c), 19.Matt SIMON (23.Adam KWASNIK 81’)

Substitutes not used: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 2.Matthew CROWELL

Yellow Cards: Simon 64’, Heffernan 78’

Red Cards: Nil
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