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Jan 22, 2010

Mariners defended after 'psychos' jibe

Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna has hit back after Gold Coast boss Miron Bleiberg accused the Mariners of resorting to roughhouse tactics during Friday night's A-League clash, and branded them "psychos".

Bleiberg hit out at Central Coast after his side were held to a 1-1 draw in Gosford, saying they were a talented team but regularly resorted to thuggery.

Bleiberg was particularly incensed by a from-behind challenge by midfielder John Hutchinson on Zenon Caravella, which sparked an angry reaction from Gold Coast players.

Hutchinson received a yellow card from referee Chris Beath but Bleiberg said he would have seen red in any other country "from Antarctica in the north to South Africa in the south".

The colourful Gold Coast coach was also disappointed at a penalty which allowed Nik Mrdja to level the scores, and accused the Mariners of using dirty tactics in the past.

"Even though that (decision) will cost us the championships, I'll not be upset with the referee because I've been here a few times and the Mariners try to steamroll the other team with any tactic in the world, clean or less clean, and the referees didn't do much," Bleiberg said after the match.

"I think the referee stood firm and did to the best of his ability.

"As for the Mariners, I think they broke the record for the fouls they committed, I think 40-something fouls and around 20-something yellow cards.

" ... The only question I ask is, for such a good side, why do they have to use such tactics and why didn't they play the 90 minutes that good? They look like psychos whenever things are hotting up.

" ... I wish them all the best to make it to the finals, but there is a way to make it to the finals and I'm not sure that they chose the right way."

McKinna was not willing to enter a war of words when asked his response on Saturday, but strongly denied his team was guilty of such tactics and pointed out Gold Coast had the player with the most yellow cards in the league in Steve Pantelidis with nine.

"Not at all," McKinna responded to the accusation.

"(Bleiberg) can have his rant and his rave every week, he can do that, he's top of the league.

"But I'm not going to bother (getting involved), he can say what he wants but I think if you check who's got the most yellows, I think one of his players has probably got the most yellows in the league.

" ... We just went out and committed in trying to win and trying to get three points for the supporters.

"All the boys did was go and compete for the ball, if you don't like to compete why are you playing football?"

The match review panel could re-visit several incidents from the game, including the heated reaction to Hutchinson's tackle in which several Gold Coast players pushed the midfielder.

United defender Michael Thwaite was shown a yellow card at the time after he grabbed Hutchinson on the neck.

"I just said to Hutcho that I know he's a very talented footballer but I don't expect him to make tackles like that," Thwaite said.

"There's no need, I think Australian football is past that."

McKinna felt Hutchinson had clearly got the ball and was harshly dealt with.

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