Talking points aplenty as Sydney defeat Mariners
Sydney FC have consolidated 4th spot on the A-League ladder with a 4-1 victory over the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night.
Goals to Alex Brosque (2), Mickael Tavares and an own goal off the boot of Jake McGing were more than enough for the Sky Blues to inflict further pain upon an already struggling Mariners outfit.
Graham Arnold rung the changes following a 1-1 draw away at Wellington last week. Alex Gersbach returned from suspension, with Alex Brosque and youngster George Blackwood also included in the starting line-up.
Jacques Faty and Matt Simon were relegated to the bench, with Filip Holosko missing the match entirely due to his suspension for yellow card accumulation.
For the visitors, coach Tony Walmsley was under significant pressure after the Mariners had gone winless in their last 10 matches. As a result, Anthony Caceres was brought back into the starting side, along with the versatile Matt Sim. Jacob Poscoliero found a spot on the bench, with Mitch Austin (illness) replaced by Daniel Heffernan.
Sydney started the stronger of the two sides, as they pushed hard for an early goal.
In the 2nd minute, they probably should’ve established an early lead. From a corner, a curling ball was met by an unmarked Rhyan Grant, who somehow failed to bury the headed chance as it thumped back off the crossbar and away from goal.
It wouldn’t make too much of a difference, though, as it took just ten further minutes before Sydney would open the scoring.
Some clever combination work by Milos Ninkovic and Andrew Hoole put the latter through on goal. Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo came out to claim the ball but Hoole got a foot in to force the ball away, with Brosque firing home the rebound into an empty net to make it 1-0.
A seemingly standard defensive clearance in the 23rd minute turned to calamity, as Jake McGing miscontrolled the ball through a heavy touch, allowing Ninkovic to nick in.
McGing mistimed his tackle, tripping the striker just inside the area and giving referee Ben Williams no choice but to point to the spot. Alex Brosque stepped up to the penalty spot and duly converted his (and his team’s) second goal of the night.
In the process of scoring the penalty, however, Brosque suffered a hamstring injury that would see him substituted for Matt Simon just three minutes later.
It was only a brief dampener for the Sky Blues, though, as calamity turned to disaster for the visitors in the 28th minute.
A superb ball from Brandon O’Neill on the left dissected two Mariners defenders to find an onrushing George Blackwood. A poorly timed dive by Izzo brought down Blackwood for what was another penalty and, having received a booking for back-chat during the awarding of the first penalty, Izzo was given his marching orders by referee Williams.
Liam Rose was the unlucky player to be sacrificed as a result of Izzo’s dismissal, with Thomas Heward-Belle entering the game for his first A-League action. Mickael Tavares, in Brosque’s absence, stepped up to the spot and beat the young goalkeeper to his left to make it 3-0 after just half an hour of play.
Despite Sydney’s man advantage and control of possession, the Mariners did manage to give their fans a sense of hope after 38 minutes, pulling a goal back against the run of play.
A great cross from the right off the left boot of Sim found an unmarked Harry Ascroft drifting in toward the edge of the six yard box, easily heading the ball home past Janjetovic to make it 3-1.
In the shadows of half time, there was some controversy behind play. A forearm to the back of Harry Ascroft’s head by Matt Simon wasn’t picked up by the referee, with replays suggesting the Sydney striker was probably lucky not to join Paul Izzo in the stands.
With the clash escaping the view of the officials, it may be that Simon finds himself in trouble with the Match Review Panel in the coming days.
After the break, a free kick to Hoole just outside the penalty area provided a perfect opportunity for O’Neill to extend the lead. The young midfielder stepped up and curved the ball around the wall, but it just skimmed off the top of the bar and out for a goal kick.
For their man advantage, however, Sydney were struggling to break down the Mariners in open play. If anything, it was the Central Coast who were the more enterprising up front in the opening 20 minutes of the half.
Substitute Milos Dimitrijevic thought he’d added a fourth for the Sky Blues in the 67th minute, but the through-ball by Hoole put the Serbian midfielder into an offside position before the ball found its way into the bottom corner.
Hoole should’ve buried his first A-League goal from open play in the 75th minute, but after finding himself on the receiving end of a perfectly weighted O’Neill ball to the back post, he put his side-footed effort disappointingly into the side netting.
After a period of dominance in possession, that fourth goal would eventually come for the Sky Blues in the 84th minute.
A well-weighted pass from Hoole to find the overlapping run of Rhyan Grant allowed the latter to slide the ball across the face of goal. To cap off a disappointing night for the visitors, an inadvertent deflection off the boot of McGing sent the ball into the back of the net for an own goal.
The Mariners have just a five day turnaround before their New Year’s Eve matchup with Wellington Phoenix in Gosford, while Sydney FC travel south next Saturday to challenge a high-flying Melbourne City.
|Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Season’ Votes|
|3||Brandon O’Neill (Sydney FC)|
|2||Andrew Hoole (Sydney FC)|
|1||Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC)|