Mariners eyeing top spot in A-League

January 23, 2011
By Angela Habashy

The Central Coast Mariners reclaimed second place after drawing with Sydney FC on Sunday night but coach Graham Arnold is now chasing top spot.

The Mariners came back from two goals down at halftime to level the score 2-2, with goals from Argentine import Patricio Perez and Matt Simon in reply to a brace by impressive teen Dimitri Petratos.

Perez finally justified the hype from Arnold, scoring the host's first goal with a menacing run into the box and providing the crucial through-ball for the equaliser.

"He's coming strong, he's coming good," Arnold said.

"I thought he was our best player today.

"He's just so different to what there is here in Australia, the way he plays.

"I thought his goal was great, they're the kind of runs I saw him make when I was in Argentina.

"It was a great first touch and a wonderful finish."

The point saw the Mariners leapfrog Adelaide to edge that bit closer to runaway leaders Brisbane Roar.

And Arnold now has the Roar in his sights.

"Look, I think the best thing about the Socceroos winning against Iraq is that Matty McKay stays there for another 10 days," he joked about the top team missing the midfielder who has been integral for them this season.

"We're six points behind them now.

"And I think (Brisbane coach) Ange (Postecoglou) isn't the happiest at the moment because he's got to play at Skilled Park which is not the best field.

"He doesn't have Matty McKay and he's just lost Luke DeVere.

"So it could be a bit of a hiccup in their system.

"So we're going to be chasing them down, keeping them honest and we're going to apply some pressure."

The Mariners have four games in the regular season left to bridge the gap.

They come up against top three rivals Adelaide next up.

"I can't wait, I think it's going to be a fantastic game," Arnold said.

"We'll be ready and the best thing is we've got four or five days to prepare for it.

"Their 8-1 victory against North Queensland was a bit of a hammering so their confidence will be sky high.

"But we're not North Queensland."