The Mariners fell to Western United on Saturday night, as an early goal from Connor Pain was enough for the hosts to prevail despite plenty of second half pressure from Alen Stajcic’s side in Launceston.
Stajcic made one change from the last match against Wanderers 10 days ago, as a foot complaint ruled out Daniel De Silva with Michal Janota coming in as his replacement.
The Pole was involved early on as the Mariners generated some pressure, but it was the hosts who snatched the lead as Connor Pain ghosted in from the left after linking up with Besart Berisha, and continued his run across the edge of the box before poking the ball home to make it 1-0.
After the goal Western applied pressure, and the hosts held the ascendancy for large periods of the half, and Mark Birighitti did well to deny Pain and then Iker Guarrotxena to keep the Mariners in it.
The Mariners grew into the game though as the half wore on, and Daniel Bouman had a chance smothered by Ryan Scott from a tight angle after brilliant pass from Janota.
The second half brought a different feel, with the Mariners looking much better to begin the final 45 minutes. Stajcic made two changes early on as Janota and Bouman made way for Jaden Casella and Josh Nisbet in the attacking midfield roles and the Mariners began to control proceedings.
Ruon Tongyik had been issued a soft yellow card earlier in the game, and was shown a second as he collided with Connor Pain off the ball, however there was confusion as the referee then rescinded the second yellow card for an offside call, and the Mariners remained at full strength.
This gave the visitors some fuel to their fire and soon after, Simon flashed a shot into the side netting from a narrow angle before Nisbet had a shot blocked from outside the box after the ball broke to him from a misplaced Mariners free kick.
The introduction of Alou Kuol for Simon added further pace up front and he almost made it count with a terrific run in behind but his fierce effort was saved at the near post by the leg of Scott.
Oliver Bozanic and Jack Clisby had chances as time wore on, but it was not to be as Western saw out the final minutes to claim victory in Tasmania.
Attention now turns to next Saturday’s huge clash with Sydney FC at Central Coast Stadium where the Mariners will be looking to bounce back in front of a bumper home crowd.