The Central Coast Mariners have succumbed to a 3-1 loss to Chinese outfit Guangzhou R&F on Tuesday night in their 2015 AFC Champions League qualifying play-off at Central Coast Stadium.
The loss has brought a premature end to the club’s forthcoming AFC Champions League campaign via goals to Jiang Ning in the opening 10 minutes and Lu Lin in the 57th minute – capped off by a Josh Rose own goal
Glen Trifiro added a touch of class to the highlight reel with an outstanding free kick in the 89th minute to put the Mariners on the score sheet.
The Central Coast Mariners enjoyed majority of possession for the duration of the match, and forced more shots on goal than their Chinese counterparts that portrayed a dynamic performance at Gosford’s idyllic bayside arena.
Head Coach Phil Moss was satisfied with his team’s performance on the pitch and was adamant that the result would not take a negative toll on his players.
“Tonight I think we played ourselves into some form, I thought the intensity was very good. Aside from the first 10 minutes we were good for large periods, held a lot of possession and we asked questions,” Moss said.
Guangzhou R&F opened proceedings early, with Jiang Ning gliding into the left side of the box and viciously curling his superb strike past Liam Reddy in the eighth minute.
Moroccan striker Hamed-allah caused havoc for the Mariners’ defence with his strong, direct runs into the home side's area.
The yellow and navy utilised their possession effectively and sent the ball into some dangerous areas through wide men, Fabio Ferreira and Travis Major.
“We got into wide areas quite well, our wide men gave us some good penetration and we delivered some ball into their box but you have to finish it,” Moss said.
Ferreira continued his impressive two game tenure for the Mariners who was impressive out wide, the former Sporting Lisbon junior found space on the wing on several occasions.
But it was the “Blue Lion’s” dangerous Moroccan who broke the game open in the 57th minute of play with a counter attack that found plenty of space in the box. Hamed-Allah’s charging run was capped off by a precision through ball to Lu Lin who made no mistake with a simple finish to extend the away side’s lead to 2-0.
The Mariners came agonisingly close to their first goal in the 82nd minute, with substitute Isaka Cernak driving a low cross into the box that the R&F shot stopper kept away from a charging Major.
Although the game was put to bed for Guangzhou, with a misjudged back pass from Josh Rose finding the back of the net in an attempted back pass to Liam Reddy.
The match ended with a trademark Trifiro spot kick and despite the result, Moss ensured the fans that his side’s dynamic performance spoke louder than the 3-1 deficit.
“There are plenty of positives to take out of tonight, I thought we pressed higher up the pitch, we put plenty of pressure on them which had them coughing up possession and we used the ball quite well in the middle third.
“We need to find a way to goal and if we can do that in the second half of the season, play some football like that and defend the way we did against a quality Asian side with some top class internationals, we can cause some waves in the second half of the season,” Moss said.
Moss also noted the impressive performance by young Anthony Caceres in the middle of the park.
“I have to say that I think that Caceres was quality tonight, I thought he really stepped up and showed what he’s about and now the challenge for Anthony is to take that form into the A-League,” Moss said.
Full attention for the yellow and navy now turns to the side’s next Hyundai A-League fixture, which will see them take on Sydney FC in Sydney on Saturday night.
“We will wake up tomorrow and dust ourselves off, we certainly have a score to settle against Sydney. We weren’t happy at all with our last performance here against them. We took some pretty harsh lessons away from that day and we will have some highly motivated players that will go down to Sydney this weekend,” Moss said.
Central Coast Mariners: 1 (8.Glen TRIFIRO 90’+)
Guangzhou R & F: 3 (7. Jiang NING 8’, 23. Lu LIN 57’, 3.Josh ROSE 89’ (OG))
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Referee: Kim Dong Jin
Central Coast Mariners: 2. Storm ROUX, 3. Josh ROSE, 4. Jacob POSCOLIERO, 8. Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 10. Anthony CACERES, 12. Liam REDDY (gk), 14. Travis MAJOR, 15. Matt SIM (18. Glen TRIFIRO 68’), 19. Matt SIMON (11.Nick FITZGERALD 45’), 25. Eddy BOSNAR, 26. Fabio FERREIRA (23.Isaka CERNAK 76’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Matt NASH (gk), 5. Zac ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 16.Liam ROSE
Yellow Cards: 11. Nick FITZGERALD 63’, 4. Jacob POSCOLIERO 78’
Guangzhou R & F: 5. Zhang YAOKUN (c), 6. Wang SONG (18.Zhang YUAN 83’), 7. Jiang NING, 8. Park JONGWOO, 9. Hamed-Allah ABDERRAZAQ, 10. Miguel JAVALOYAS, 11. Jiang ZHIPENG, 15. Jang HYUNSOO, 20. Tang MIAO, 23. Lu LIN (21.Chang FEIYA 70’), 27. Liu DIANZUO (gk)
Substitutes not used: 4. Jin YANGYANG, 12. Zhang SHICHANG (gk),
Yellow Cards: 20.Tang MIAO 13’, 8.Park JONGWOO 20’