|By HAMISH NEAL
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold would not be drawn into criticising Brisbane Roar's Besart Berisha, despite his controversial behaviour in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners.
The result left reigning champions Brisbane second from bottom on the A-League ladder, having lost five games this season, and sees the second-placed Mariners move just two points behind Adelaide United, who they take on in a top-of-the-table clash in Week 9.
The talking point of the match occurred in the 34th minute when Roar striker Berisha appeared to head-butt Mariners captain John Hutchinson, who had taken exception to the Albanian's tackle on defender Trent Sainsbury
Arnold claimed not to see an earlier alleged stamp on Nick Montgomery from Berisha, stating: "It's the best way, isn't it? Otherwise I'll get called a whinger.
"That's Berisha, he's fantastic, he plays on the edge, it's great ... I thought it spiced the game up a bit, it livened things up for... the crowd and everyone."
Montgomery, however, was less than complementary of the Albanian marksman's antics in the first half.
"It's disgusting. He stamped on me," the former Sheffield United man told Coast FM.
Arnold meanwhile said his team's pre-match preparation did not include analysis on how to combat players like Berisha when it comes to underhanded tactics.
"The only thing we said about him was he is very, very dangerous in the box, crosses come in, so make sure you mark him," he said.
"We only ever speak about players as footballers and how we can stop them, looking at their weaknesses and strengths.
"But we don't highlight anyone normally."
Arnold was keen to highlight the performance of his side's young brigade, including goal-scorers Tomas Rogic and Bernie Ibini.
"Young Tommy here, 19 years of age, Zac Anderson was superb, [he is] 20 years of age. I moved [Trent] Sainsbury to left stopper, he was very, very good. Also Matty Ryan and Bernie [Ibini].
"So [we had] five 20-year-olds [playing] and I thought they performed excellent and I'm very pleased."
Arnold claimed the Mariners are improving every week as he seeks to transform his 2012-13 team into the finished article.
"Defensively we are close to where I want us to be," he said.
"In build-up and in attack I still think we have got another 20 percent [to] 30 percent to go and that will make us an even better side."