The Central Coast Mariners have rounded out their season with a night to forget at AAMI Park, a 5-0 loss to Melbourne City.
After a promising start by the Mariners, it was City who went into the break with a half time lead, thanks to two strikes in 10 minutes by, Shayon Harrison and Riley McGree, to round out the opening stanza.
It marked the end of a very quiet first half, where neither side boasted too many promising chances on goal.
Momentum continued with the home side in the second half, who doubled their lead, scoring two goals in the opening 10 minutes.
Then Caretaker Coach, Alen Stajcic, offered game time to some of his youngsters in, Peter Kekeris, Lewis Miller and Dylan Ruiz-Diaz, who all came off the bench.
But City were too good at home, driving confidently into the finals series with a sensational stoppage time goal to, Ramy Najjarine.
Fronting the press pack post game, Stajcic described the game as “sterile”.
“We held them for 35 minutes and the game was quite sterile up until that point.
“But it was a little bit of magic from young Harrison which changed the momentum of the game.
“We were disjointed at the back with so many positional changes back there, which gave them a couple of soft goals.
“They took them well with world class finishes, but it was poor marking in the penalty box.
“City are good on the ball, they control it well and they deserved their win,” Stajcic said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the first round or the last round, you’re a professional.
“It’s not an easy moment for the players, not an easy situation, but it’s where you see real characters stand up and really see the resilience of some.
“They [the players] are playing for contracts every week, not tonight.
“I’m not basing my judgement on tonight, I’m basing it on the last few months.
“Players want to come to our club, players want to stay at our club, we will pick up and be in a much stronger position next season.
“You always need to reflect and evaluate what the club needs.
“We need a better foundation, more stability and more depth.
“There hasn’t been a great amount of depth and you saw that tonight, with Kye Rowles out, the disjointed nature of the back four made it tough at times,” Stajcic said.
Media release, Apr 26
Tyson Scott, Central Coast Mariners Media