In the second match-day of Menpora Cup Group A, Central Coast Mariners firmly put their foot in the road to final after their victory against Malaysia U-23. Marinersâ two goals were scored by their strikers, Matthew Simon and Mitchell Duke. Meanwhile, Malaysia was unable to play their maximum ability and hardly penetrate Mariners defensive line, to put the ball in the back of the net.
Graham Arnold, Marinersâ coach, changed his starting line-up from the game against Sriwijaya by playing 7 different players altogether. And it instantly changed Marinerâs style of play. At the first match, Mariners used both of their wingers to break the Sriwijayaâs defensive organization, and it was obvious that their lateral players were the fulcrum of the attack. But yesterday, Mariners often play direct passes through the middle of the pitch.
Malaysia themselves couldnât impose their style on the game. Two Malaysian wingers, Saarvindran and Ibrahim Syahrul, who become Marinerâs main threat against Persib, were also ineffective and couldnât do much to help Malaysiaâs attack. Furthermore, Ibrahim Syahrul was substituted in beginning of the second half.
McGlinchey â Fitzgerald as Chances Creator
One of Marinersâ strengths in this game was their two midfielders: Michael McGlinchey and Nick Fitzgerald. Repeatedly both of them took turns to help Marinerâs attack with their through-pass.Â This is the kind of play that was absent at the first match, since they always spread the passes whenever they entered the final third of the pitch.
Fitzgerald especially keep on barging the penalty box to try to put the ball in the net. Whilst McGlinchey played deeper to send the through-ball.
Â (1) McGlinchey Send The Throughball for Matthew Simon
(2) Fitzgerald barge the penalty box to receive passes from Matthew Simon
This strategy was effective. Within the first 15 minutes, golden chances were created by Mariners. Initially, Nick Fitzgerald played through a ball for Simon, but Izham Tarmizi was quick off his line to collect the ball. Minutes later, Mitchell Duke darted down the byline before flicking a cross into the box. Fitzgerald made contact with it but his header unfortunately rattled against the bar.
In the second half, Fitzgerald was also able to cut through Malaysiaâs defensive line and entered the penalty box to test Izham Tarmizi.
Unfortunately, Mariners ability to retain possession and to dominate the match was not completed by their ability to use the chances effectively. From 5 chances that were created within the first half, only three find the target, and 1 become goal.
To Use Height
The difference in height has vastly become a tiresome cliche that used to analyze a football match. But, yesterday, Mariners showed us how to cleverly use their strength in the air. To their merit, they didn't do it by using long-ball all the time, but with using short-crosses in front of the net.
Using their aerial ability, Mariners were able to threaten Izhamâs net three times. One of it become goal, one hit the bar, and one was off target.
Marinersâ High Defensive Line
Being able to dominate the game and possession gave Mariners the chances to use a really high defensive line. They even only left two players at the back that was their two center backs, Zac Anderson and Hayden Morton. It is as if their keeper, Liam Reddy, played as the third defender, or sweeper. In the first half, Reddy already come out 4 times from the penalty box to collect the ball.
Mariners Â High Defensive Line â Only Two Centerbacks Leaved at The Back
This strategy of using a high-defensive line was helped by the presence of John Hutchinson. Often spotted helping Marinerâs defense in their own half, his role helped other Mariners midfielders to move forward in an attacking scheme using a 2-3-2-3 formation. Playing with such composure, Hutchinson himself read the game well and often break Malaysiaâs counter attack.
Saifulâs passes for Malaysiaâs attacking line, which was the main source of Malaysiaâs threat, was often intercepted in the middle of the pitch. Itâs no wonder that within the first 30 minutes, not once did Malaysia created an attempt. The very first time Harimau Muda entered the last third of the pitch come was the effect of their forward act, when they intercept Marinersâ center-backâs pass.
The rest of the time, Mariners was able to anticipate the long-pass sent by Malaysiaâs defenders to their forwards.
The Death of Malaysiaâs Wing-Play
Besides Malaysiaâs inability to match Mariners midfielders, one of the reason of the lack of threat from Harimau Muda was because their wing-play didn't play as lively as the first game.
When they face Persib, both of Malaysia wingers repeatedly moved inside to the middle of the pitch and added numbers of players in midfield. This strategy was not seen against Mariners. Both of Saarvindran and Ibrahim Syahrul often waited for passess, near the side-line in the final third of the pitch.
In the first 45 minutes, Malaysia gave Syahrul more passes than Saarvindran, hence the use of the right-side for the majority of the game. Syahrul then used his pace to cut through Mariners defensive line. It was noted that Syahrul once, after dribbling the ball to the end of the pitch, send a short crosses that become the golden chances for Malaysia to score. But Mr. Ong then substituted by Mohd. Ridzuman Abduloh in the second half.
The Rise of Mitchell Duke
In our match preview, we mentioned Mitchell Dukeâs name for several times, for his good form in these past times. Furthermore, Duke has completed a week-training with West Ham United players. Unfortunately, against Sriwijaya, the player that was often used as a right forward in a 4-2-3-4 scheme didn't gave performance that we could rave about.
But that was not the case against Harimau Muda. In this game, Dukeâs record looks like this: one goal with a measured shot directed to the bottom corner of the net, one key-passes for Simonâs goal, and he was central in almost Marinersâs attacking scheme. As a right-forward, Duke was often cutting into the inside of the penalty box and he was also became the bridge between Fitzgerald-McGlinchey and Matthew Simon.
Dukeâs movement was also important in the creation of Marinersâ first goal. Moving to the left side area of the pitch, Duke sent a high diagonal cross to the penalty box. Fitzgerald than send Dukeâs ball to Simon by flicking it with his head.
Meanwhile in the second goal, Duke has the ability to spot the open spaces left by Malaysiaâs center back, and quickly shot the ball whilst Izham Tarmizi was not ready.
If Graham Arnoldâs purpose to the enter the tournament is to create bond between the new players with the old one, then we dare to say that it will happened first with the attacking line. It could be said that both Matthew Simon and Mitchell Duke has begin to understand each role and movement. Simon will play as target-man, whilst Duke become the second striker who will actively find spaces and send that killer pass.
But, in Mitchell Duke, Arnold got a complete player who could also play the role of a lone striker. It was seen when Simon was substitute at minute 75. For several times Duke successfully received through-passes from the midfield and convert them in to attempts. One of it became Marinersâ second goal.
Duke himself has a different style from Simon. Heâs effective when given a through-pass and spaces, for which he could use his acceleration to get through the opponent defenders. Whilst Simon is a forward who could play in small spaces in the penalty box. With one or two touches, Simon usually shot the passes he received, without much dribbles.
The Complete ChalkboardsÂ
Attempts CCM and Malaysia U-23 within the first 45â
Attempts CCM and Malaysia U-23 within the second 45â
Mariners Defensive Indicator Within the First 45â
Mariners Defensive Indicator Within the Second 45â
Malaysia Defensive Indicator Within the First 45â
Malaysia Defensive Indicator Within the Second 45â
Mariners Passes in Final Third Within the First 45â
Mariners Passes in Final Third Within the First 45â