The Central Coast Mariners played out a five-goal Thursday night thriller with an experienced Bankstown City outfit away from home where Trent Buhagiar bagged a brace.
A high Bankstown City press had the Mariners Academy on the back foot for the first 20 minutes where the home team pushed hard for the opener.
Leading into the second half, the Mariners looked to push their way back into the match but unfortunately conceded another goal just before heading into the sheds.
Some heated words from Academy Coach Ben Cahn at half time seemed to inspire the Mariners who came out in the second half a different side and pulled the scoreline back to 2-1.
An extremely soft goal gifted the Lions a 3-1 lead but that would not deter the Mariners who chased the game until the final kick.
Buhagiar pulled it back to 3-2 which was followed by a raft of missed opportunities that should have ended the match on even terms at the very least.
Cahn paid credit to the spirit of his side in the second half and takes plenty of optimism into next week's home match against St George.
“Over the past four weeks we have made some personnel changes and have spoken about moving in the right direction,” Cahn said. “We had a poor first half last night but the second half we played as well as we have all season and in the past four games the form has been excellent.
“We expect a strong second round and need to start converting some of our chances to move further up the table.
“Over the next four weeks we expect more results than not, if we perform as we have been over the past month and keep improving at the rate we have been not only will we see some more points on the board but coming into the Hyundai A-League season there will also be some players knocking on the door,” Cahn said.