Saturday, February 18, 2006

And then there were three

The good thing about the second leg of matches is that, unlike the first leg, you don't have to make any predictions about the rest will go. So this will be short: Newcastle are out.

No surprise there. What was surprising was how long it took to be sure. Despite the rabid crowd and grand-final atmosphere (at least two players obviously slipped on the tinsel littering the ground) who would go through was in doubt until injury time.

As always seems to happen, Central Coast had the run of play early, but then they went cold for fifty-odd minutes after Matthew Thompson's 28th minute goal for Newcastle. They woke up for a little while at the beginning of the second half, but that was short-lived due to horrible finishing by Damien Brown. But Brown redeemed himself with his cross to Heffernan for Central Coast's tying-goal.

That made it 2-1 on aggregate and the Central Coast Mariners go through to the preliminary final.

Remember, the Mariners won the pre-season competition, so being one of the remaining three teams at this stage in the season should not be unexpected. And neither, I think, was the record crowd of 17,429, since -- as the commentary pointed out -- Rugby League didn't want the Central Coast, neither did Super 14. But football did, and they got their pay-off this week.

And if Sydney wins tomorrow, that will mean the final is played at Aussie Stadium, which the FFA would be pleased with, crowd-wise.

So, have my predictions for the remaining games changed? No, not really. Whoever loses tomorrow will probably still beat the Coast next week and then Adelaide will still win.

>>>Nicky (or is it just 'Nick'?) Carle was Newcastle's best tonight; and all season from what I saw.

>>>Fox Sports seem to think the same as I do, about how crowd noise can really 'make' a game. But I think they had the effects mike too high in the mix; when the crowd really cheered, it drowned out the commentators.

>>>Finally, some Queensland Roar news. Miron's kept his job. Now we wait to see how much more of the team will leave.


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