Adelaide United have clawed back from 2-0 down and a one-man deficit to claim a point in a controversial encounter in Adelaide, ultimately ending 2-2.
Central Coast got off to the perfect start with Andrew Hoole giving the Mariners the lead in the opening 10 minutes with a perfectly placed free kick.
With Ersan Gulum getting controversially sent off for a foul on Trent Buhagiar just before the 20-minute mark, Central Coast had the opportunity to double their lead in the first half with Paul Izzo making several good saves.
However, it was not until just after half time when the Mariners doubled their lead with Ryan Strain turning Andrew Hoole’s free kick into his own net.
The Mariners seemed to be heading for a comfortable win until Jordan Elsey popped up with a header to halve the deficit.
Adelaide then took control with of George Blackwood hitting the post before he struck the ball off the crossbar and into the back of the net seven minutes from full time to give his side a share of the spoils.
Ground condition under the spotlight
Some three weeks ago, a concert was staged at Coopers Stadium and the AFLX tournament was held there just two days ago. The condition of pitch was the main topic of conversation in the leadup to the game.
The field sported a coat of green paint and unfortunately looked more like a cow paddock. Marco Kurz raised his displeasure with his side’s treatment, the main tenants of the venue, have been denied a good pitch at an important time of the season.
What was of more displeasure was the fact that the AFL event was one that was very much a trial run if anything else.
Unfortunately for the A-League, issues with ground conditions have consistently plagued the league and continues to frustrate all those involved with the game.
Questions from FFA need to be asked as to why a trial competition was played only 48 hours before a league match. If we want our league to be respected, the quality of pitches are just one of many areas that needs to be rectified.
Officiating controversy strikes again
While much of the pregame talk was about the state of the pitch, attention quickly shifted after a couple of controversial refereeing decisions.
First, Andrew Hoole’s first half goal caused anger with the free kick appearing to be on the soft side.
However, the real controversy came minutes later when Gulum was sent off for a foul on Buhagiar which seemed to involve little contact. Referee Shaun Evans though sent off the Turkey international.
With no VAR called upon, questions will continue to be raised over the consistency of the system’s use as well as the level of overall refereeing in the A-League.
Mariners still searching for a win
For Paul Okon, the opportunity to end a winless streak dating back to the beginning of December was perfectly placed, 2-0 up and with a man advantage.
With all the early-season promise of finals and improvement, the Mariners now sit towards the foot of the ladder.
The failure to win when either one of Wout Brama and Tom Hiariej is absent will be seriously concerning for Okon and points to a lack of quality available in that position outside of his Dutch duo.
While these players are top quality, the Mariners’ inability to replace at least one of them will continue to prevent Okon’s men from taking the step from competitive side to finals contenders.
Jacob Melling has done a reasonable job, but one wonders just how much Central Coast depend on the former PEC Zwolle man.