Central Coast Mariners tasted defeat for the first time since November, as our incredible 14-match unbeaten run was put to an end by Sydney FC, on Saturday evening at Our Paradise.
A strong crowd of over 11,379 supported the boys in the second instalment of our huge Double Header, following our Liberty A-League side’s 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory, but were unfortunately not treated to the result they deserved on this occasion.
Despite a disastrous start, the Mariners refused to give up and could’ve salvaged a point on another day, after a spirited second half display that saw Angel Torres net his tenth goal in his last ten games.
Mark Jackson made one change to the side that played out a goalless draw with Wellington during the week as Miguel Di Pizio came into the starting eleven, in place of Alou Kuol.
It was a calamitous start though for the Mariners, who conceded for the first time in over 300 minutes of football, within four minutes of this clash when Rhyan Grant popped up at the back post after Sydney recycled an overhit corner, to give the Sky Blues the lead.
A nightmare start for the Mariners continued on eight minutes, when Anthony Caceres managed to evade a number of challenges in the box before finishing past Danny Vukovic to make it 2-0.
The Mariners looked to respond and Torres came close on 15 minutes, flashing an effort towards the near post that was smartly saved by Andrew Redmayne.
Sydney extended their lead further though on 20 minutes, an unfortunate slip from Mikael Doka allowed Caceres in and another stroke of misfortune for the Mariners saw the ball deflect in off Dan Hall.
A much more respectable Mariners performance followed in the second half, some tactical tweaks and no doubt some stern words from Jackson at half time almost paid dividends immediately as Jing Reec was played through by Torres, but Redmayne made a big save.
Torres was spearheading the Mariners’ efforts to get back into the game, he went close again on 52 minutes, before finally getting a deserved goal on 55.
A terrific reverse pass from substitute Storm Roux on his return to the side, found Torres in space and he advanced into the box before finishing over Redmayne to get the Mariners on the board.
Angel Torres gives the Mariners hope! 🔥— Paramount+ Australia (@ParamountPlusAU) February 10, 2024
The Colombian sensation takes his goal tally to 11 for the season ruthlessly finishing via the toe poke. GAME ON 💪#CCMvSYD Live on Paramount+ 📺 pic.twitter.com/C04Nc6ulob
Max Balard then came close to putting us within touching distance of a comeback on 75 minutes, but his curling free-kick went narrowly wide of Redmayne’s post.
The Mariners pushed until the end, with Jacob Farrell forcing Redmayne into the save of the game in added time with a piledriver from long range, but the Mariners had ultimately given themselves too much to do on the night.
🗣 Mark Jackson ‘We fell short of our standards’
An open and honest Jackson spoke to 10 Football post-match, admitting the performance wasn’t good enough in front of our fans, but was keen to take positives from the second half and said the squad will deal with the defeat together, the same way they celebrate victories together.
“We weren’t good enough in the first half, that’s the long and short of it. It put us well on the back foot and to have that type of performance in front of our home fans is not what we wanted, it was a disaster to be honest,” Jackson said.
“We tried to rectify things at half time and we changed things a bit to try and get more pressure on the bal and we took the game to them in the second half.”
“We knew we weren’t good enough. We set certain standards, individually and collectively and we fell way short those standards [in the first half].”
“We have had a defeat and the first half wasn’t what we wanted, but we will stick to what we do. We will review things honestly and openly with the players and we will make sure these things don’t happen again because when the fans come out to support you like they have, that performance wasn’t good enough.”
It’s collective, we all celebrate and enjoy the victories together, so that is how we have to deal with the losses as well.
Jackson and the squad will now look for a positive response in another big week for the club. On Tuesday evening, Cambodian side Phnom Penh Crown visit Our Paradise in the AFC Cup Zonal Semi-Final, before Western Sydney Wanderers make the short trip north on Sunday.
Don’t miss out on either game, with tickets available now!
Mariners members 𝐆𝐎 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐄 to Tuesday night's AFC Cup Zonal Semi Final at Our Paradise! 🔥— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) February 11, 2024
Watch us take on Phnom Penh Crown for a place in the Zonal Final! 👊
Tickets 🎟: https://t.co/DXw10nLaKc#CCMFC #BeOurMate pic.twitter.com/VC0IBGsWws