Ahmad Elrich and Dylan Macallister?s first goals in a competitive fixture for the Mariners were enough to see the yellow and navy claim a rare win over the Roar ? just their third in fourteen official outings.
Michael Zullo responded in the second half for the home side, who were earlier reduced to ten men after captain Craig Moore was shown a straight red card for a harsh challenge on Mariners midfielder Andre Gumprecht.
The Wellington Phoenix?s 3-2 triumph over Sydney FC at Wollongong?s WIN Stadium last night ensured that the result of today?s clash would be ultimately insignificant, though the pace and ferocity exhibited by both sides from the opening whistle underlined the value of a positive result.
Of most importance to both sides was to ensure a maximum compliment of players would be available for their respective Hyundai A-League openers in a fortnight and to that end, Mariners starters Sasho Petrovski, Bradley Porter and Macallister were among those cautiously walking a suspension tight rope.
To their credit, each avoided the intervention of referee Peter Green and will be eligible to play against the Newcastle Jets on 15 August, though this positivity was somewhat overshadowed by potential injury blows to Nigel Boogaard and Gumprecht.
“The last 25 minutes of the first half was great and we could have scored more,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.
“Coming to Queensland and winning 2-1, it?d be great to take that again in four of five weeks time in the Hyundai A-League.
“Our boys looked tired, which comes back to having eight boys missing today and we only had two subs, but overall to have finished the Pre-Season Cup with two wins out of three is a reasonable result.”
From the opening whistle, the Mariners? backline was as youthful as any that has represented the club in four seasons.
Boosted by the return of Qantas Under 23?s squad member Boogaard, the Mariners? defence also included 24-year-old captain Alex Wilkinson as its second most senior member, behind fellow youth international Matthew Osman, along with Bradley Porter and Danny Vukovic.
In contrast, the Mariners? midfield was bursting with talent among the most experienced in Australian top-flight football, with John Hutchinson controlling the middle with Gumprecht, with Elrich and Adrian Caceres providing flair on the wings.
Up front, Macallister and Petrovski again were given an opportunity to shine and it was their invention and purpose that was largely responsible for each of the Mariners? goals.
Firstly, Qantas Socceroo Elrich was found by Gumprecht in ample space on the right wing and calmly slotted his first goal in Mariners colours past sprawling Roar ?keeper Griffin McMaster.
Macallister doubled the Mariners? advantage four minutes later when slamming home the rebound to Petrovski?s effort, which on the back of a neat free kick from Hutchinson cannoned off the crossbar and into Macallister?s path.
The Mariners? encouraging performance was soured somewhat close to full time when Boogaard was forced from the field with a suspected groin strain, while Gumprecht will be closely monitored in coming days after reporting a knee concern.
“There will be at least four of five players back in time for the opening Hyundai A-League game, which will give us a bit more depth than we have got, because the last few weeks have been too thin for comfort,” said McKinna.
“It?s good going into our Hyundai A-League games confident and we just have to build on our current form when the competition kicks off.”
The Mariners will now set their sights on the opening fixture of their Hyundai A-League Premiership defence ? Round 1 of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season against the Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday, 15 August. Kick off is at 8pm.
The Mariners will return to their Bluetongue Stadium home the following round, where they will host southern rivals Sydney FC on Saturday, 23 August. Kick off is at 7pm.
Tickets for this fixture will go on sale in the near future from all Ticketek outlets.
Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are now on sale at www.ccmariners.com.au.
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk) (40. Mark Bosnich (gk) 64?), 2. Andre Gumprecht, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 10. Adrian Caceres, 11. Dylan Macallister (9. Nik Mrdja 64;), 16. Nigel Boogaard, 17. Matthew Osman, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 21. Ahmad Elrich (25. Brady Smith 45?), 22. Sasho Petrovski
Yellow Cards Hutchinson 19?, Boogaard 60?
Red Cards None
Goals Elrich 28?, Macallister 32?
Queensland Roar 20. Griffin McMaster (gk), 4 CraIg Moore, 6. David Dodd, 9. Serginho Van Dijk, 10. Charlie Miller, 13. Chris Grossman, 14. Ben Griffin (3. Luke Devere 46?), 15. Matt McKay, 16. Hyuk-Su Seo, 18. Danny Tiatto (7. Michael Zullo 46?), 23. Tim Smits (8. Massimo Murdocca 46?)
Unused Subs 1. Liam Reddy (gk)
Yellow Cards Van Dijk 19?, Dodd 70?
Red Cards Moore 48?
Goals Zullo 50?
Referee Peter Green