Victory denied by Mariners

Melbourne Victory have been held to a 2-2 draw by Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Melbourne Victory have been held to a 2-2 draw by Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Coming into the game off successive defeats to Gold Coast United and Perth Glory in the previous fortnight, the Victory looked as though they had done enough to win thanks to two goals in three minutes from Rody Vargas and Carlos Hernandez in front of 9674 fans after trailing at the break.

But after Daniel McBreen had put the visitors ahead just before the half-hour mark despite having had little of the play up to that point, a bizarre own goal to Grant Brebner with a dozen minutes remaining gifted the Mariners a point.

The Mariners now draw to within three points of second-placed Adelaide United, with two games still in hand and a superior goal difference while the Victory remain in sixth place, with 18 points from their 16 games.

In the opening 20 minutes the Victory had the better of the chances, with Marvin Angulo teeing up Robbie Kruse only for him to scuff his effort wide before Archie Thompson had two opportunities to open the scoring.

In the 16th minute Hernandez found Angulo and he released Thompson into the box with a great through ball although the striker couldn’t quite reach the ball before keeper Matt Ryan. Hernandez then sent Thompson through again a minute later but from the front of the box he shot straight to Ryan.

Having only had a couple of long-range chances in the first half hour the Mariners struck against the run of play when McBreen ran onto Alex Wilkinson’s long ball, headed it down for himself and knocked a low ball past Petkovic.

It was very nearly 2-0 five minutes later when Mustafa Amini danced around Leigh Broxham and blasted over the bar while minutes before the interval Ryan dropped Hernandez’s corner but was fortunate that Angulo’s hurried shot missed the target.

Minutes after the restart Angulo didn’t quite reach the ball before Ryan while a Thompson cross nearly deflected in before he played a neat one-two with Hernandez but was again denied by the keeper.

The home fans found their voices just past the hour when Celeski’s ball back in after a partially cleared corner found Kevin Muscat and he headed it on for Adrian Leijer to nod it towards goal where Vargas back-heeled home.

And worse was to come for the Mariners when Pedj Bojic conceded a free kick to Kruse on the edge of the box and Hernandez stepped up and curled home a superb free kick from 25m to leave the visitors stunned.

But just under 15 minutes later they were back on level terms when Michael McGlinchey played in a corner that came off Wilkinson’s leg and then was fumbled by Petkovic, with Grant Brebner trying to clear only for the ball to hit Petkovic’s boot and bobble over the line.

Melbourne Victory (Vargas 62, Hernandez 64)
Central Coast Mariners (McBreen 29, Brebner 78og)