Missed chances see Victory draw

YOU could just sense all those missed opportunities in front of goal were going to come back to haunt Melbourne Victory, just like the last time the side played for premiership points in Launceston.

It must have seemed like groundhog day for Victory last night at Aurora Stadium, after it walked off its Tasmanian pitch with a just a draw after seemingly being headed for the three points.

The competition's leading goal-scorer, Daniel McBreen, converted a penalty 76 minutes into the match, after Adrian Leijer crunched Michael McGlinchey, to cancel out Marcos Flores's first-half goal and see the first-versus-third blockbuster end at 1-1.

So attacking and so dominant in the first half, Victory created chances seemingly at ease.

In a nutshell, Victory looked a class above the ladder-leading Central Coast Mariners for the first 45 minutes of last night's A-League clash.

But it just couldn't capitalise.

It wasn't until the 41-minute mark that Victory finally got the lead it so thoroughly deserved when Flores found the back of the net after an Adama Traore cross.

Before that, Victory had multiple chances to open its account, including young gun Marco Rojas sending a penalty straight into the upright.

Veteran Archie Thompson, playing his 150th game, was another who couldn't get the job done despite several chances.

But the most dramatic moment of the twilight match came just before half-time, when Mariners coach Graham Arnold was banned from the sidelines, for offensive comments he made towards match officials.

Arnold was forced to spend the second half in the coach's box.

This, and a half-time bake from the coach, fired up the Central Coast, which managed to slow the tempo and get back into the contest.

Both teams had their chances in the second half, with respective keepers Nathan Coe (Victory) and Mat Ryan (Central Coast), who earlier in the day had cancelled his trial with Scottish club Rangers, producing memorable saves.

With the clock running down to full time, Leijer, Billy Celeski and Mark Milligan all had genuine cracks at stealing the lead back for Victory, but failed.

The physical encounter saw six yellow cards handed out, three to either side.

The result was similar to Victory's last game at Aurora for premiership points, when in February a late Gold Coast goal saw it come from behind to escape with a 1-1 draw after being outplayed for most of the night.

Following Adelaide United's 3-2 win win over Perth Glory on Friday night, the Mariners lead at the top of the ladder is now two points over the South Australians. The Victory remains seven points behind Central Coast on 27 points.

SCORES - MELBOURNE VICTORY 1 (Marcos Flores 42m) drew CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 1 (Daniel McBreen 77m pen) at Aurora Stadium. Crowd: 6238. Referee: Jarred Gillett.

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