HOW TO BEAT: Central Coast Mariners

Welcome to this week’s ‘How To Beat:’ – a weekly tactical preview of Western Sydney Wanderer’s opponent and how they can be beaten.

This week – Central Coast Mariners. Let’s get right into it.


Central Coast Mariners – Round 7 – Friday 7th December, 7:50pm (Shithole Stadium, Homebush).


HAL Round 5 – Perth Glory 3 – Central Coast Mariners 2

Central Coast Mariners tried mimicking Perth’s 3-4-3 shape in this match. Judging by the commentary, this is the first time the Mariners have played this formation.

When the Mariners defended in their own half, they revert to 5 at the back – both wingbacks drop to form a 5-2-3.

When battling the middle of the pitch, the Mariners don’t close down the channels. Perth are able to play quite direct passes through the middle to find players in the final third.

CCM rectify this by playing a high defensive line to catch the counter out and possibly force Perth to play side to side.

The first goal conceded is a result of CCM trying to clear it out from the back. A silly throw in to one of the centre backs who is forced to clear it. Perth recover the ball and Kilkenny plays a lovely ball over the top of CCM’s defence for Chianese to square it for Ikonomidis to put it away. This goal couldn’t happen without the timing of the run by Chianese getting in behind the Mariner’s defender. Perth have been concentrating on trying to get in behind CCM’s defenders in the first 10 minutes and they have their just desserts as a result.

Cissé also enjoys playing the long ball from defence when in possession when trying to build out from the back. This happens regardless of Aiden O’Neill quite obviously making himself available. It maybe that Cissé doesn’t trust his midfield to get through Perth’s or that he has a directive to find the flanks as early as possible. Closing down on him early could be fruitful to win the midfield when the Mariner’s are trying to play out.

In saying that, Cissé is finding Clisby with some space to get in behind Ivan Franjic – we must be weary of this as Risdon enjoys getting high and leaving space behind him for Hamill to frantically cover.

It’s quite obvious Cissé is trying to get over Perth’s middle 4 to make it a 3v3 opportunity. We must take note of this as we can be exposed in this manner.

With Melling & O’Neill; they’re unable to break down Perth’s midfield. They also lack control and movement off the ball to find players in space – Mariners aren’t pulling Perth out of position therefore making it difficult to find channels to pass.

CCM aren’t great at closing down passing lanes. Perth find it quite easy to play direct passes through the middle and are able to find players in position to attack. Though, CCM are able to get numbers behind the ball for when it happens.

Riera will need to concentrate on choosing a wing if CCM play a back three – CCM are able to pass the ball across the back without too much sweat – this will only tire out Riera and also make it difficult for either Majok/Kamau/Sotirio to do their job. If he can get in behind the defence and be there for that pass by Baumjohann; it could prove fruitful.

Mariner’s first goal is a result of a Mrcela own goal. Though it must be said that prior to this error by Perth; CCM had started attacking the right wing via Connor Pain and managed to penetrate in to the box 2-3 times and were unlucky in those phases to not get something out of it. This own goal seemed to be reward for those efforts. Again, we must be weary of this as Llorente, like Risdon, enjoys getting forward and leaving space in behind for Elrich to try and clean up.

Ross McCormack seems to drift wide when CCM is attacking. I don’t understand why as he doesn’t add anything to the attack when this happens. In fact, he isolates himself and is used as the 1-2 pass to introduce another option to attack when he should be the one latching on to the final pass. He’s a poachers striker.

This could be a frustrating match for us as the Mariner’s are adept at absorbing pressure under constant attack. It could be the Newcastle Jets match all over again as Perth were finding it more and more difficult to break down the Mariners despite the amount of possession they had in their box. Success ultimately came fifteen minutes in to the second half as Kilkenny crossed it beautifully for Shane Lowry to nod it home.

Aiden O’Neill had a lovely goal – deflection off a Perth defender and a first time hit right in to the top corner that Reddy had no chance of getting too.

Got to give credit to the Mariners; they fought to the end to find the win away from home. That’s either gutsy or reckless depending on who you ask but I admire a team that goes for it, especially in a league without relegation. They could’ve easily sat back and absorbed the pressure and taken a point back to Gosford but they kept attacking. Alas, it proved too much as Ikonomidis was able to seal a winner in injury time to break the hearts of the Mariner’s faithful.

HAL Round 6 – Central Coast Mariners 1 – Sydney FC 2 (Matt Simon Derby)

Matt Simon started this match as opposed to coming off the bench against Perth the prior week whilst Ross McCormack was omitted from the match day squad due to “injury”.

This could have been a tactical adjustment for Mulvey as McCormack against Perth was drifting in to isolated positions and not pulling the opposition’s defenders out of shape for the other forwards to run into. Having Simon’s presence in the forward line is a clear target man who can hold the ball up and create space for his teammates. He can also score, like he did in the 16th minute – which is touching considering it is the debut of the Matt Simon Derby.

In fact, Matt Simon made the A-League team of the round due to his contribution in this match. It wasn’t just his attacking prowess but his ability to defend from the front and stifle Sydney from playing out from the back that made such a positive effect. His tackles on Jop van der Linden were having an effect on Sydney FC’s mentality.

Jacob Melling seems to be a liability in the Mariner’s midfield. He tends to give away fouls and has difficulty in distributing the ball forward. This should be noted for the Wanderers.

Like the Perth game, the Mariners are inept at passing through the middle, they are easy to stifle and tend to relent the battle in the middle of the park. Their strength is going over the top or directing the ball down the wings with pace via players such as Connor Pain.

Mariner’s first goal via Matt Simon is a textbook example of their game plan – target man holds the ball up – distribute wide and cross in against the run of play. A lovely goal and plaudits need to be afforded to Matt Simon who was unmarked and tapped it in from an awkward position but also for his efforts in building this play.

For large periods of this match, Mariners are in control and were the better side. They put Sydney under a lot of pressure and made it incredibly difficult for them to play out of harms way. In fact, barring Kennedy and Golec, the majority of the Mariners players have been in Sydney’s half. Sydney FC had been growing tiresome of this and conceded silly fouls via Rhyan Grant & Paulo Retre which only further heaped more pressure on Sydney’s defence.

At times, Mariner’s possession was 75% to Sydney’s 25% with a large period of that in Sydney’s half.

Sydney’s first goal came via a silly error by Jack Clisby and the Wanderer’s faithful know he has that in him. A silly challenge causing Rhyan Grant to go down on the edge of the box invites Sydney FC in to a game that they quite simply had no business of them being in thus far.

Sydney’s second goal, you could argue against the rhythm of the match given Mariner’s efforts thus far, was a result of the Mariner’s giving O’Neill too much time on the ball. A lovely goal from range – those are the kind of goals that shouldn’t happen, the Mariners didn’t expect him to shoot but rather expected him to cross. This lapse in concentration largely cost the Mariners the game and another week of heart break.


Be direct. Play through the middle and stick to our structure. If key players such as Baumjohann & Riera drift out of position; it is a severe problem and a sign that we are being beaten tactically by Central Coast.

Discipline is freedom – play to our shape and build our confidence in the strengths of the players on the park.

We are sorely in need of true leadership. A man that can enlighten the players on the pitch with the directive of Babbel’s plan. Let’s hope Hamill can finally do this.



Here’s hoping Ziegler is in the squad and that he’s decent.



I’m adding a new one this week:


Now write that one on the blackboard 50 times also!

Not that we have established those two points like a disciple of Jesus writing one of the ten commandments, we should discuss the rest of the squad:

  • If Kamau is playing, then do not have an overlapping winger behind him;
  • If Risdon or Llorente go forward, then Baccus should drop in to the centre of defence and push Hamill and Elrich to either side of him as cover;
  • Baumjohann needs to receive a pass exclusively in the final third of the oppositions half;
  • Riera needs to do less work and pick an angle to receive the pass; and
  • Baccus needs to be a defensive midfielder and allow O’Doherty to play the #8 role.

If we can go back to basics and play to those core responsibilities, we can make an impact.


Here’s praying Ziegler is a quality centre back with leadership qualities. If the Victory game was anything to go by; we are sorely in need of such qualities.


Central Coast Mariners: Kalifa Cissé (back from suspension)

Western Sydney Wanderers: Roly Bonevacia (returns from injury), Patrick Ziegler (returns from injury).

NEXT WEEK:  Sydney FC – Round 8 – Saturday 15th December, 7:50pm – ANZ Stadium, Homebush.

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