The Central Coast Mariners performed strongly at Suncorp on Friday night, but still fell to Brisbane Roar as Scott McDonald’s goal on the stroke of half time proved to be the difference.
The Mariners started strongly, disrupting Brisbane’s play and looking to get out on the break.
Milan Ðurić charged through the midfield and poked a ball through to Chris Harold who had his shot saved by Jamie Young, before the Serbian drove forward once more shortly afterwards and drew a save from Young himself with a stinging drive.
Ruon Tongyik shook up Brad Inman with a strong challenge as the Mariners established themselves in midfield, and shortly after had the best chance of the first half hour as they broke from the back.
Daniel DeSilva charged forward flanked by Jordan Murray and Lewis Miller before shooting with the outside of his boot, and the rebound from Young’s save was scooped over under pressure by Murray.
Mark Birighitti was called into action twice in quick succession to keep out the hosts, and just as it looked as though scores would be level at the break the Roar struck.
Scott McDonald tapped in Inman’s cross and while the linesman raised his flag, VAR intervened and overruled the decision and the goal stood.
Mirza Muratovic fired wide ten minutes in and 20 minutes in Alen Stajcic made his first changes as Jair and Sam Silvera came on for Murray and Harold, but it was Ziggy Gordon who made an impact next up as a great sliding challenge halted a Brisbane counter.
The two substitutes both conspired to cause problems and Jair won a free kick that Ðurić swung in invitingly, but Tom Aldred was able to head clear.
Mikey McGlinchey replaced Ðurić as time wound down, and Silvera was causing problems up front as first Aiden O’Neill and then Aldred both went in the book for increasingly late challenges on the young forward.
Silvera almost created a goal as he rode one tackle before driving into the area and crossing, only for the hosts to block for a corner and clear the set piece as they held out to the end.
Attentions for the Mariners now turn to next round, as they host Melbourne City for Friday Night Football at Central Coast Stadium.