Head Coach Alen Stajcic praised Saturday’s atmosphere post-match, saying the A-League felt ‘alive’ during the thrilling 2-2 draw against Sydney FC in front of a 10,000 crowd.
Marco Urena and Matt Simon scored for the Mariners before Sydney clawed goals back through Milos Ninkovic and Trent Buhagiar, but Stajcic said the match was a great showcase for the A-League and a strong performance from his side.
“I thought it was a pretty good match actually, if I was a neutral fan, I thought it was exciting with a great crowd,” he said.
“The A-League felt alive tonight, it’s the most alive I’ve felt inside a ground for a couple of years, especially in this ground, so all in all I thought it was a fantastic effort from both teams.”
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“Obviously when you’re leading 2-0 you feel like you’ve dropped a couple of points, and Sydney might feel aggrieved they felt a couple of decisions didn’t go their way, but I thought our performance was very good. We were good with the ball, created numerous opportunities and probably should have put the game to bed at 1-0, 2-0 and at 2-1 to go up 3-1 but we didn’t.”
“Playing against a quality team who can come back at any moment and they’re dangerous all the time, so I thought it was a good night out, a fantastic performance from our team and we’re probably ruing the fact we don’t take all three home.”
For the first time this season Stajcic was forced into making a change to his starting back four, with Academy product Dan Hall replacing the suspended Ruon Tongyik in the eleven.
The 21-year old performed well in Tongyik’s absence before he left the field after 56 minutes, completing 84% of his passes and winning six of his eight duels against one of the more formidable frontlines in the competition.
Staj was full of praise for Hall, who almost had his name on the scoresheet as well as he rose highest from a corner in the first half.
“Young Dan Hall came in and that’s his first start in the A-League and to mark Barbarouses and Bobo and have Ninkovic running at you all night, I thought he was outstanding,” he said.
“He probably showed a few nerves on the ball early on but for a young kid to come in and start his first A-League game against such a quality side and still have the composure to keep them out, I think the score was 2-1 when he went off, [that] just shows how good our training and development has been this year with all our young players and he’s just another example of that.”
The Mariners are now up against two short turnarounds in quick succession, facing Brisbane at home on Wednesday before a trip to Melbourne to take on the Victory this Sunday.