Inspiring Mariners deliver yet another epic

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC will deliver Hollywood-like melodrama that sets such encounters apart from any other in Australia – at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight, an epic 3-3 draw confirmed just that.

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC will deliver Hollywood-like melodrama that sets such encounters apart from any other in Australia - at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight, an epic 3-3 draw confirmed just that.

With last month-s barely fathomable come from behind 3-3 tie at Adelaide-s Hindmarsh Stadium still fresh in the memory of all Hyundai A-League supporters, the Mariners produced a virtual repeat against their southern rivals this evening following a stunning late show in the state capital.

Down 3-0 with less than thirty minutes to play after Mark Bridge, Adam Casey and Terry McFlynn had given the home side the ascendancy, the Mariners responded as only the Mariners can - Matt Simon-s brace in addition to Nik Mrdja-s breakthrough goal of the campaign ensuring a share of the spoils for the visitors.

It was no less than the Mariners deserved after another blissful evening for football fans across the country.

Six quality goals scored against a colourful and vocal Sydney Football Stadium backdrop that featured its fair share of yellow was the perfect showcase for Australia-s top-flight football competition, which, in less than four years, has berthed one of the great battles in Australian sport - the Mariners and Sydney FC derby.

Tonight-s latest installment was as good as any that had preceded it and although the Mariners departed Sydney with only one point to show for their efforts, it was a point that was as precious and as celebrated as any other in yellow and navy history.

"The boys believe in each other and I believe in the boys and when you create so many chances goals have to come and we knew that one would come," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.

"Credit to the way that we came back, Matty with a great goal and a great header and Mrdja coming off the bench - we all know that when he-s fully fit he-s one of the best strikers in the Hyundai A-League and that was a great finish by him.

"We have leaked goals, but it wasn-t as though our defence played badly tonight, Sydney produced three good finishes."

Indeed, it was two goals of the highest quality that had the Mariners on the back foot for the latter stages of the first half.

Firstly, the Mariners- 2008 Hyundai A-League Grand Final nemesis Bridge underlined his quality with a wonder strike from the fringe of the penalty area that dumfounded most of the gallery on hand, not least helpless Mariners custodian Danny Vukovic.

Nearer to the break, Casey slotted home from reasonable distance to double the advantage of the home side, who so nearly went up by three only minutes later when Alex Brosque was put through on goal, only to be denied by Vukovic-s smart save.

Sydney-s pair of super strikes, coupled with their late first half flurry was perhaps a misrepresentation of the opening stanza, where the Mariners could have quite easily netted several goals of their own.

Sasho Petrovski came closest with a goal bound headed effort from Adrian Caceres- cross that forced an exceptional save from Sydney FC standout Ivan Necevski, while Dylan Macallister and Simon were a constant threat up front.

Caceres- endeavour in attack, combined with the ever-present danger posed by central midfielders John Hutchinson and Mile Jedinak ensured that the Mariners were always in a game they were ultimately never out of.

The Mariners- frustration at a half that was one of polar opposites in terms of clinical fortunes was exacerbated shortly after the restart when McFlynn powered home the third speculator of the night.

Shortly after, Sydney FC midfielder Stuart Musialik should have extended the home side-s advantage when shooting at an open goal from barely two metres, only to skew his effort against the crossbar.

Perhaps this was the turning point to inspire the visitors, as shortly after the hour mark, Simon slotted his first of the evening after a neat passing exchange that ended with Hutchinson-s delightful through ball.

Some twenty metres from goal, Simon showed great poise to poke his shot past the quickly advancing Necevski - a goal that surely unnerved the hosts given the recent history of character shown by the yellow and navy.

Thoughts of Round 7-s six-goal thriller at Hindmarsh Stadium truly reverberated around the Sydney Football Stadium some fourteen minutes after Simon-s intervention when substitute Mrdja slotted home his first of season four after some extraordinary lead up work from tireless midfielder Bradley Porter.

The Mariners- now typical character, spirit and determination truly came to the fore with ten minutes left to play when Simon rose at the far post to slot home Porter-s corner and square the ledger just seventeen minutes after the scoreboard had reported a three-goal deficit.

Yet another derby, yet another epic - yet another astonishing display from the reigning Premiers.

"At half time, it was the full dressing room, it wasn-t just me, we thought we could get a result," said McKinna.

"When the third one went in you thought, this is a big hill to climb but credit to these guys, they had their climbing boots on and they got to the top."

The Mariners will resume their Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Saturday, 15 November, when they host AFC Champions League finalists Adelaide United. Kick off is at 7.30pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 10. Adrian Caceres (17. Matthew Osman 88-), 11. Dylan Macallister, 13. Paul O-Grady (6. David D-Apuzzo 46-), 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Matt Simon, 22. Sasho Petrovski (9. Nik Mrdja 69-), 23. Mile Jedinak

Unused Subs 1. Matthew Nash (gk)

Yellow Cards Jedinak 18-, Petrovski 35-, Hutchinson 90-+4 Red Cards None Goals Simon 63-, 81-, Mrdja 78-

Sydney FC 20. Ivan Necevski (gk), 5. Mitchell Prentice, 8. Stuart Musialik, 10. Steve Corica, 12. Shannon Cole, 14. Alex Brosque (23. John Aloisi 67-), 15. Terry McFlynn, 18. Adam Casey (21. Adam Biddle 74-), 19. Mark Bridge (28. Bobby Petta 81-), 29. Beau Busch, 31. Anthony Golec

Unused Subs 30. John Filan (gk)

Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals Bridge 28-, Casey 39-, McFlynn 57-

Referee Strebre Delovski Crowd 18,251