Wednesday night’s clash between Nagoya Grampus and Central Coast Mariners saw the A – League outfit acquit themselves well. The Aussie team who have just been crowned Premiers Plate champions (akin to winning the league in most nations) had been experiencing a form slump, but the travelling Japanese club brought out the best in the Mariners. After a start which saw action from end to end before a few soft claims for free kick, Grampus eventually struck. In the 21st minute Tulio got on the end of a low flighted free kick which bedazzled the locals (I’m not sure if it was even meant to travel low to the ground). The national team stalwart poked home the opener, only for Mariners to bounce back within 7 minutes. Josh Kennedy (hardly visible all night) was pick-pocketed 5 metres outside his own box and young Tom Rogic was quick to fire in a cross from the left for Dutchman Patrick Zwaanswijk to head home. Another centre back getting in on the act.
From that point on a points decision went to the Mariners but despite their best efforts, a second goal wasn’t forthcoming. With both team playing compact formations and high defensive lines the midfield was a hive of action and the 19 year old Rogic shone for the home team. It was an eventful night with the local fans jeering every free kick awarded to Grampus. An early simulation by Kensuke Nagai got the ‘Gosfordians’ offside and from that point on there was no turning back. One highlight was centre back Tulio Tanaka’s efforts to rile the crowd even more. He played up to the crowd by slowing down play and dummying over the ball when there was no opponent within cooee. A true character that would fit in at any A – League club. If the funds were available . . . he’d be a must.