Mariners hit Brisbane in transition to end regular season

Brisbane Roar 0
Central Coast Mariners 2
At Lang Park, Brisbane

Brisbane have ended the regular season in disappointing fashion with a 2-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners. The game had little meaning for either side after earlier results, and Brisbane played like it struggling to get out of second gear and create the clear cut scoring chances they’re accustomed to. Part of that however must be attributed to the Mariners tactics, as first half goals from ex Brisbane attacker Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres locked up third spot for the visitors.

Brisbane worked hard and probed for an opening, but in truth the lack of intensity in the game didn’t help Brisbane. Berisha had a couple of decent chances –scored one that was correctly ruled offside, and the hit the post- but those chances aside there wasn’t a lot. Central Coast did a good job to limit Brisbane to longer range efforts which were off target all night. All week we heard Mulvey bemoaning the lack of intensity at training saying the proof would be in the pudding, and I think it’s fair to say that was the case. The effort was definitely there, but they were just 10% off their normal level all across the park.

Central Coast however came with a very specific game plan and they executed it very well. A key part of their strategy was for Montgomery to drop into the backline to create a back five, while pushing up into a #6 role while in possession. It worked well in two respects as it both put extra numbers around Berisha, and also allowed the fullbacks and even the centre backs to get out to the wider areas and stop Brisbane’s rotations in those areas. Both of those things forced Brisbane to go more central which is why Petratos and Broich tucked in more than usual last night.

Going forward, the plan was basically to have Ibini, Duke and Fitzgerald bomb forward and get in behind Brisbane’s full-backs in transition, and that’s where the first goal came from. Stefanutto was caught high up the pitch which left the space in behind and despite Broich tracking back well they couldn’t cut out the chance. The second goals was simply a solid strike from outside the box, however if you wanted to be critical you could say he should have been closed down earlier.

Up next:
Brisbane has a weekend off after securing the top spot in the regular season and have some work to do before their semi-final which is tentatively scheduled for Sunday April 27. That may change due to some clubs having ACL commitments, however Friday night is already out due to the stadium already being booked. Last nights results mean that Brisbane cannot play either Western Sydney or Central Coast- Wanderers because they’ve finished second, and Mariners because they’ve finished third and cannot be the lowest placed winner from the first week of finals. That means Brisbane will play one of Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney/Newcastle, depending on winners in the first week of the finals.

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