Before the FFA Cup match in Mudgee, the Central Coast Mariners travelled to Macquarie University Fields for their final pre-season match on Saturday morning against Sydney FC.
Both teams used the opportunity to field competitive line-ups ahead of the start of the Isuzu UTE A-League season.
A full-strength Sydney FC side had much of the ball in the opening minutes, however alot of their play down the right side was disrupted by newly signed Jacob Farrell, who kept Max Burgess quiet throughout the half and prevented any dangerous balls into the Mariners area.
It took ten minutes for the visitors to settle and when they did, the passes began to zip across the surface, finding feet, and often leaving the Sydney FC midfield isolated.
Both sides struggled to create clear cut chances in the first 30 minutes until Matt Hatch saw a strong shot deflect out for a corner, which swung the momentum into the Mariners’ favour.
From the resulting corner, the ball fell to Oliver Bozanic on the edge of the box and his fizzing shot took a slight knick on the way to goal and had to be well saved by Andrew Redmayne to keep the scores level.
Josh Nisbet also went close from a Béni Nkololo cross before the break before the Frenchman repeated the trick at the start of the second, this time for Marco Ureña, who’s header was unfortunately directed straight at Andrew Redmayne in goals for Sydney FC.
Minutes later, picking up possession in midfield, Marco turned sharply, evading the Sky Blue challenge on halfway and driving forward into the Sydney FC half. He played a delicious ball through for Matt Hatch on the right wing and the number 25 motored towards the box, sold two defenders on the edge and squared the ball back to the Costa Rican, who made no mistake and put the Mariners 1-0 up.
Moments later, at the other end, after a contentious hand-ball wasn’t called, the ball fell advantageously to Sydney and Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti, kept the hosts scoreless after pulling off a brilliant double save to deny first Adam Le Fondre, then Max Burgess.
Using this as fuel, the yellow and navy pushed on further and after Noah Smith’s forward ball took at least five Sydney players out of the play, Damian Tsekenis was through one on one and fired the visitors two goals to the good after they both replaced Jacob Farrell and Matt Hatch respectively.
The sealer came moments later, and it was Ureña involved again, releasing Nisbet down the left, who squared a ball to the feet of Academy graduate Tsekenis, allowing an easy tap in for a deserving third for the Mariners.
Speaking on his impressive off the bench performance, Damian Tsekenis was happy with the result and the way his team played.
“We’ve had some good performances through pre-season but to defeat Sydney 3-0 is a great result” Tsekenis said.
On his first goal: “I had a chance a few weeks ago that I didn’t quite convert so I was just thinking I better put this one away, which I did and that is great for myself and the team.”
To hear the full chat with Damian Tsekenis following the 90 minutes, click here.
A complete performance from Nick Montgomery’s men who finish pre-season in the perfect manner and can use this result as momentum into next week’s FFA Cup Round of 32 clash.
Photos: @Jamcas50 – Jaime Castaneda