Mariners fall to disappointing 3-2 defeat in Sydney

The Central Coast Mariners have fallen to a tough defeat against Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon, going down 3-2 at Allianz Stadium. 

With both Jacob Farrell and Dylan Wenzel-Halls missing the match due to injury, the Mariners looked the better of the two sides for the majority of the first half. 

Despite a controversial red card to Brian Kaltak, the Central Coast went into the break with the lead. A difficult second 45 minutes saw Sydney score two unanswered goals, handing the home side the three points. 

The match lived up to the pre-game hype early, with both teams looking dangerous to kick start the match. Back and forth football entertained the crowd, with neither side taking a backwards step from the challenge. 

It was Sydney FC who opened up the scoring, with a fortunate deflection resulting in a one-on-one chance. 

Max Burgess collecting the ball outside the area, having a long-range effort blocked by Sydney striker Adam Le Fondre. 

The deflection wrong footing Kaltak as the forward rolled to his left, finding the bottom left corner with his close-range strike. The goal handing Sydney the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute, giving the Mariners work to do. 

The Central Coast took just five minutes to get back into the game, with some lovely link up work from Marco Tulio and Jason Cummings forcing a foul from Rhyan Grant. The Socceroo playing the Brazilian in behind Sydney’s defensive line, with Tulio getting goal side. 

The striker was about to score until Grant pushed him over as the last defender, with the referee pointing to the spot and showing a yellow card. 

After a few minutes the VAR intervened, deeming that Grant’s challenge was worthy of a red card. Cummings smacking the subsequent penalty off the underside of the crossbar, firing in his first of the game in the 20thminute. The goal leveling the scores at 1-all after a frantic start to the match. 

The one-man advantage was short lived after a controversial decision saw Brian Kaltak handed his marching orders. 

The defender tracking Burgess back to the edge of the penalty area, with our centre back putting in a long-range challenge. Kaltak collecting the ball first, before hitting the legs of the Sydney midfielder. 

VAR opting not to overturn the decision, with the match to be 10-on-10 for the remaining 65 minutes. 

The action did not stop, with Cummings again being the hero as he fired us in front. Thomas Aquilina driving down the left-hand touchline, drilling a cross into the penalty spot.

Our striker having enough time to take a touch before hitting a snap shot, finding the top left corner. The goal securing the strikers brace in only 33 minutes, giving the Mariners a deserved lead.  

Chances continued to fall for both sides over the final few minutes, with both Andrew Redmayne and Danny Vukovic holding strong in goals. Tulio almost hitting it past the Sydney goalkeeper before the Mariners had a late penalty call denied after the ball appeared to hit the arm of Burgess.

Sydney’s best chance a stoppage time bicycle from Adam Le Fondre that was comfortably stopped by our captain, with the Mariners heading into the sheds with a 2-1 lead. 

The Central Coast went close to adding to their one goal advantage in the 52nd minute, with Tulio collecting the ball after a rebounded Beni Nkololo shot. The Brazilian hitting it on the half volley with a wide open goal, needing to only pass it in. His shot instead smacking into the side netting. 

Under a minute later Cummings almost had his hattrick, hitting a long-range effort with the outside of his left boot. The shot flying past the outstretched palm of Redmayne, narrowly missing the goal. 

Sydney drew level in the 58th minute, with Joe Lolley calming hitting the target from the six-yard box. Luke Brattan’s cross finding the Englishman on the full, volleying it in to bring the score to two all. 

The home side regained the lead in the 72nd minute through Adam Le Fondre, finding some free space in the box after a Paulo Retre cross. 

The striker sliding in to steer the ball goalward from close range, with Vukovic no chance to stop the shot. Le Fondre’s second of the afternoon giving Sydney FC the 3-2 advantage. 

Despite a few final chances the Mariners were unable to find the target in the final 20 minutes, with Sydney doing enough to secure the three points. 

The Central Coast now turn their attention to our Friday night trip to Brisbane next week, with Montgomery hopeful that both Wenzel-Halls and Farrell will be ready to return for the clash. 

The match an important one as we look to maintain our place near the top of the A-League ladder.