The Mariners suffered their first defeat of the season in the Foxtel Y-League on Sunday night, dropping to second place on the ladder after a 5-3 loss to Group B competition leaders Sydney FC.
The late-night fixture was a showdown between the two strongest contenders in the fight for first place. Despite a strong initial showing from the Mariners, Sydney pulled ahead in the second half to claim the win.
In an action-packed first half, Nick Montgomery’s side took an early lead, Abraham Majok heading in a deft cross from John Roberts in the 9th minute. The home team responded quickly, Luke Ivanovic firing home in the twelfth minute for the Sky Blues.
The Mariners took the lead again only ten minutes later, Alou Kuol putting away his sixth for the season, only for Sydney to level the scores once more with a second strike from Ivanovic.
Captain Dan Hall claimed a third goal for the Yellow and Navy in the final moments of the first half, giving his team a 3-2 advantage going into the second stanza.
However, the home side returned from the sheds with a vengeance. A third strike from Ivanovic, as well as goals from Patrick Flottman and Jordi Swibel, put Sydney ahead 5-3 at the final whistle.
It was a frustrating outcome for Head Coach Nick Montgomery. Missed opportunities and slow defending from his side in the second half against a particularly strong Sydney outfit ultimately decided the end score.
“The result was disappointing.” Montgomery said.
“We went there, we took the lead, went in at half-time 3-2 up. The two goals we conceded were both down to individual mistakes, which is the disappointing thing.”
“Second half we missed a lot of chances to extend the lead and then sloppy defending towards the end really let us down.” Montgomery said.
“We conceded from a set piece and a throw in, something I’m disappointed about and the boys are disappointed about, but all credit to Sydney, you’ve got to finish your chances and they did, and we missed a lot of opportunities,” he said.
With only two more games left in such a tight competition, conceding points to Sydney FC is a major frustration for the Mariners’ hopes of claiming the top spot in Group B.
“Losing to Sydney means it’s not in our hands anymore.” Montgomery said. “It was in our hands all the way up until that game but losing that game, it’s not in our hands.”
“All we can do is win both of our remaining games and hopefully Sydney slip up.”
The next two games will be crucial for the Mariners, and it’s a home game against the Western Sydney Wanderers next on the horizon. Last time the two teams met, the Mariners returned from Marconi Stadium with a comfortable 5-0 win, but Montgomery’s squad will face up to the Wanderers with confidence, not complacency.
“We’ll go into the game full of confidence, we know we got a result down there but that was a long time ago.” Montgomery said.
“We expect a tough game, they’re a big club, with a lot of good young players who have HAL experience. It’s going to be an interesting game, but we’ll aim to win.”
Match Details |
Foxtel Y-League Round 8
Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers
Pluim Park, Lisarow
Saturday, 4th January - 8:45am kick-off