All Square in Showground Showdown

Goals from strikers Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik have helped the Central Coast Mariners to a come-from-behind 2-all draw against Sydney FC in tonight’s historic first football match at the Sydney Showground.

Goals from strikers Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik have helped the Central Coast Mariners to a come-from-behind 2-all draw against Sydney FC in tonight-s historic first football match at the Sydney Showground.

Three goals in a seven-minute period in the second half brought the match to life after an indifferent opening period. A draw was a fair result, but the Mariners could be forgiven for expecting more out the match.

Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold was happy with the performance of his charges but concedes more improvement is required as the season proper looms ever nearer.

"I-m happy with the performance and with the boys. We made a lot of changes, as did Sydney and I thought we showed good character out there tonight.

"The purpose of these games is to try new things and work on different combinations, and there were a number of things I wasn-t happy with tonight," said Arnold.

The match got off to the worst possible start for the Central Coast side, with an alert Alex Brosque pouncing on a stray pass from custodian Mathew Ryan in the opening forty-five seconds of play.

Sydney could have doubled their lead minutes later but some scrambling Mariners defence was able to salvage the situation, frustrating the Sydney attack.

Alex Wilkinson attempted to reduce the deficit when he soared above his marker, from a set piece in the 10th minute. Unfortunately for the Mariners skipper, Sydney custodian Liam Reddy was able to comfortably deal with the header.

After a nervous opening the Mariners midfielders were able to settle into the rhythm of the game. Despite giving away size to their Sydney opponents, the midfield showed plenty of promise in developing new combinations.

Mustafa Amini continues to impress, and Oliver Bozanic showed that he has a tremendous turn of speed, capable of unlocking even the tightest of defences.

Despite the limitations of only arriving in the country less than a week ago, Dutch veteran Patrick Zwaanswijk demonstrated his commitment to his new club in a forty-five minute cameo.

Showing the wiliness of an experience defender, Zwaanswijk nearly opened the scoring on the half-hour mark when he evaded his marker on a weaving run to the back-post. Only a reflex save from Liam Reddy denied the new recruit from a memorable goal in his first outing in the yellow and navy.

Though he did not get game time for New Zealand at the recent FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Michael McGlinchey showed that he had lost none of his attacking flair, providing a number of intelligent crosses and demonstrating the footwork that made him a fan-favorite at Bluetongue.

The best chance of the half fell to Adam Kwasnik. An early delivery from Josh Rose released the enigmatic Kwasnik who steered the ball agonisingly wide of the far post.

Late drama in the dying seconds of the half saw Alex Wilkinson booked for a late challenge on Dimitri Petratos. Sydney rushed to take the free-kick but, ultimately, the ball fell safely into the hands of ‘keeper Mathew Ryan.

Both teams changed formation to begin the second half and the game opened up almost immediately. The first two chances fell to Sydney FC, but neither Terry McFlynn nor Dimitri Petratos were able to capitalise.

The Mariners continued pressing forward, and, ultimately it was width that would break down the Sydney defence. Matt Simon received a ball with his back facing the goal, and in times past he would have attempted to muscle his way through the defence. Instead a much more experience Simon calmly shifted his body-weight, evaded his marker and was able to square the ball with a perfectly timed cross that allowed his partner up-front Adam Kwasnik to slide in and place the ball home.

The fight-back lasted all of sixty seconds, when Scott Jamieson was able to not only beat his marker but deliver a cross to an unmarked Mark Bridge. Bridge had no trouble with the delivery, firing his volley into the back of the net.

It took the Mariners just six minutes to find an equaliser through the boot of the ever-reliable Matt Simon.

A free-kick awarded in a dangerous position saw Brad Porter and Oliver Bozanic combine in a lovely set play. Porter-s cross saw Rostyn Griffiths head towards goal, only to be denied by Reddy. The ball was cleared only as far as Matt Simon who was able to guide his shot through the cluttered box and past the waiting arms of Liam Reddy.

Both sides continued to press forward, but neither side could create further scoring chances.

"I-m happy that I saw the character of the Mariners out there tonight, and I-m pleased that I saw things we can work on at training going forward," Arnold said.

The Mariners are next in action in a training match against Newcastle Jets on Thursday, 22 July at Budgewoi Soccer Club, Kick-off is at 11:00am.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Kwasnik 59-, Simon 67-) Sydney FC 2 (Brosque 1-, Bridge 60-)

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, (8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS 45-), 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA, (19. Matt SIMON 45-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, (12. Matthew LEWIS 67-), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, (4. Pedj BOJIC 62-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 22. Mustafa AMINI, Adam KWASNIK.

Unused Subs 20. Nikodin MATIC (GK).

Yellow Cards WILKINSON 45- Red Cards Nil

Sydney FC: 1. Liam REDDY (GK), 5. Hayden FOXE, 7. Brendan GAN, 13. Antony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE, (19. Mark BRIDGE 45-), 15. Terry MCFLYNN (C), 21. Scott JAMIESON, (23. Rhyan GRANT 83-), 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, (3. Stephan KELLER 72-), 25. Nathan SHERLOCK, 26. Dimitri PETRATOS, (11. Kofi DANNING 67-), 28. Hirofuni MORIYASU.

Unused Subs 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (GK).

Yellow Cards FOXE 27-, GOLEC 78- Red Cards Nil