NZ Knights hold Mariners to 0-0 draw - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ Knights hold Mariners to 0-0 draw

By Damon Cronshaw 11/01/2007 10:19:24 PM Comments (0)

The Central Coast Mariners' hopes of making the A-League semi-finals are all but over, after a controversial refereeing decision cost them victory over New Zealand Knights.

The match ended scoreless, despite a Stewart Petrie shot going over the line in the 76th minute.

New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston blocked Petrie's shot, causing the ball to trickle towards goal.

Midfielder Richard Johnson made a desperate goal-line clearance, but television replays showed the ball just crossed the line.

Referee Ben Williams did not award a goal, much to the dismay of the 10,637-strong crowd.

Despite the decision, the Mariners had many opportunities to win the match.

The goal-scoring crisis that has gripped the side for much of the season, apart from Damien Mori's eight-game mid-season spell, ultimately proved their undoing.

They dominated the match and bombarded the Knights goal in the closing stages, but could not find the net.

Their inability to record one win in four games at the business end of the season has cost them dearly.

Two points out of the top four and with their opponents having a game-in-hand, the Mariners season is virtually over.

Adam Kwasnik, the Mariners leading scorer with seven goals, missed a string of chances.

He volleyed wide from close range in the sixth minute, then missed three more chances within a 20-minute period of sustained Central Coast pressure.

Within that period, midfielder Mile Jedinak hit the cross-bar from the edge of the penalty box and had a far-post header well-saved by Paston.

Paston pulled off another crucial save shortly before half-time, tipping wide an Alex Wilkinson header from a corner.

The home side began the match looking sharp and energetic, playing with a midfield rhythm that had been absent from their play in recent weeks.

The Knights, though, are a different team under coach Ricki Herbert.

They play with better shape and more conviction and competitiveness, making it difficult for their opponents.

As the match wore on, the Mariners poor form in front of goal continued.

Their tempo noticeably dropped early in the second half, forcing coach Lawrie McKinna to introduce substitute Jamie McMaster in the 58th minute.

Central Coast striker Matt Simon followed soon after, replacing the injured Damien Brown.

Simon had a chance blocked a minute after coming on and McMaster almost broke the deadlock, shooting narrowly wide after 68 minutes.

The Knights looked dangerous when playing the ball in behind the Mariners defence. Knights striker Alen Marcina almost pinched the three points late in the match, but goalkeeper Danny Vukovic blocked his shot with his legs.

Jedinak could have sealed victory for the Mariners in the 89th minute, but his header went narrowly wide.

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