New Year’s Eve Party Games
December 31, 2011 by staff
Forced to settle for a point against the league’s bottom side, the A-League leaders were left frustrated by a night of missed passes and trench warfare on a pitch that gets less forgiving by the week.
A win would have taken the Mariners five points clear, but Gold Coast made a mockery of their lowly status by playing with great resolve.
The visitors didn’t really test the Mariners defence, but they did well enough to secure a fourth straight clean sheet.
Mariners goalkeeper Matt Ryan admitted: “I didn’t have have much to do. As a goalkeeper, you’ve got to be pretty happy about that. But we’re disappointed not to get the three points.
“We’ll start the new year top of the league so we’re happy with that.
“We’re looking forward to our next game against the Melbourne Victory when Harry (Kewell) and his boys will be coming to town.”
Despite a brave draw against the competition leaders, Gold Coast captain Michael Thwaite wanted more.
“I think they were there for the taking, but some silly mistakes put some pressure on us,” Thwaite said.
“In the end, we’re happy with the draw. That’s our fourth clean sheet in a row and were proud that we were able to grind out a result.
“I think our system works pretty well against them. I’m sure they’d agree.
“We’ve been playing well all season. We’ve had a bit of bad luck in a few games, but hopefully we’ve turned the corner now.”
Mariners coach Graham Arnold could only rue a frustrating evening. He had pleaded again for fans to show up and help drive his team towards another home success – and he was rewarded with a comfortable season-best attendance of 14,838.
But Arnold is also aware of the need to build up points at this stage of the season, especially with last night’s encounter the first of three home games in four fixtures.
He faces a draining period in late January with up to five players in line for an Olyroos call-up, and Matt Simon is about to leave for South Korea, so his frustration on the touchline at his team’s poor start was obvious.
Credit Gold Coast, though, who set up well and showed pace and power in attack. One first-half move was particularly incisive, Maceo Ritgers sliding the ball down the left for Adama Traore to cross low.
Only Alex Wilkinson’s sliding challenge stopped Ben Halloran from converting at the near post.
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