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Jan 4, 2011

Pitch not A-League standard, says coach

Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson says an inferior, rock hard and painted Skilled Park pitch will be detrimental to Gold Coast United's A-League title claims.

Ferguson was speaking from experience after his side etched out a bruising 0-0 draw against United at Skilled Park on Monday night in front of almost 3,000 spectators.

"It was hard, it had a lot paint on it to make it look green. It's got to be better," Ferguson said.

"It wasn't A-League standard.

"When we did the warm-up we knew straight away it was rock hard and there was paint on it. No grass, it was all muck.

"For their title chances, not sure how many home games they've got, but it will be (an issue).

"There's not much I can say about it. It's no good."

For months, Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg has bitten his tongue when asked about the state of the pitch, which has deteriorated over the course of the season.

But after his side blew their home ground advantage against lowly Glory, and with it a chance to pinch third spot and move within striking distance of second-placed Adelaide, his frustrations became apparent.

For the second home game running the yellow cards and fouls came aplenty, which Bleiberg attributed to the unevenness of the pitch and the lack of certainty it has created in the minds of both sides.

In the last two home matches at Skilled Park, 12 yellow cards have been produced and 56 fouls have been committed.

"The ball is a bit bouncy and a lot of 50-50 (balls)," Bleiberg said.

"Gold Coast is the home team, and you are the coach of the other team and you walk on the field, and Gold Coast has a lot of lightweight players ... so every week we are having a battle,

"We are not playing Suncorp or Perth Stadium where it's like carpet and we can play good football and move the ball.

"It's tempting when the other team sees the field, they say 'let's go for a battle'.

"From round one until now we have not had a proper pitch, but if I talk to the players each week and tell them the pitch is not good I am not doing my job as a coach."

Acting Gold Coast skipper Joel Porter said players lacked confidence and hesitated when attacking the ball and it has created difficulty in orchestrating set plays.

"We are a ball-playing team and you want to get the ball down, play triangles and on-twos, and we have the players to do that, but we definitely can't do that on the pitch at the moment," Porter said.

"It's very patchy and bumpy in areas and if you try and play a straight pass along the ground you get the odd bubble here and there and you don't know where it's coming.

"On a flat pitch you know where it's coming, but on a pitch like that your are guessing.

"Both teams have to deal with it."

Skilled Park stadium management have been contacted for comment.

Gold Coast United's next home match is against North Queensland Fury on January 14.

Skilled Park manager David Lloyd said the ground had been coloured for aesthetic reasons, the pitch was passed fit to play by FFA officials and an unusual climate for this time of year meant the transition to summer grass was taking much longer.

"The field remains playable and continues, as it always has done, to pass the requirements needed to host A-League fixtures," he said.

"The unseasonal weather (low temperatures and high rainfall) has prolonged this transition period as we have not had the sunshine and humidity necessary for the summer grass to take hold.

"Sections of the pitch were treated with a fertiliser and vegetable dye mixture that is green, which is designed to blend in with the field. This is common practice within the industry."

He said a recent increase in humidity will assist the growth of the summer grass.

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