A late penalty decided by the Video Assistant Referee brought the Central Coast Mariners undone, as they fell 2-1 to Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on October 12.
It was an even start, but there were good signs for the visitors as they repelled a wave of Wanderers’ attacks before beginning to win much of the ball, and just after the half hour mark, Milan Djuric, put the Mariners ahead in stunning fashion on his Hyundai A-League debut.
Working in from the left, Jordan Murray fought through a challenge before the ball fell to Djuric and he let fly with a stunning effort that took a slight deflection before ricocheting off the underside of the crossbar and in.
The lead lasted only five minutes though, when Mitch Duke found space from a corner to sneak a header inside the near post and restore parity.
There was controversy on the stroke of half-time when Daniel Georgievski flew through the feet of Murray in front of the Mariners’ bench, but the Wanderers man was only issued a yellow card and the game remained level in both score and players as the half-time whistle went.
The second half began as a tight affair but there were no clear cut chances at either end in the opening exchanges.
Sam Silvera was introduced by Head Coach, Alen Stajcic, to provide a spark, and he did just that as the Mariners looked to get out on the counter attack, however, Daniel Lopar kept out a big chance from Jordan Murray before the striker was denied by a block on another occasion.
With 13 minutes to play the Wanderers appealed for a handball off a low cross and after an extended passage of play, a penalty was awarded via the Video Assistant Referee and Duke made no mistake to score his second goal and put the Wanderers ahead inside the final 10.
Despite a good passage of sustained pressure in the dying moments it was not to be for Stajcic’s men and the Wanderers secured the three points.
Despite the late penalty that left the Mariners without a point, Stajcic believes there are plenty of positives to be taken from the performance away from home.
After 90 minutes in which his side were largely the better team, Stajcic was strong in the belief that good signs were aplenty.
“I thought we deserved something out of the game,” he said.
“Even in the first half we were more dominant with the ball and creating chances than the second half, there’s lots of positives for us to take away.
“We controlled large portions of the game, we had controlled passages, good build ups, we were threatening in attack, we looked dangerous there and we looked solid at the back.
“Bar the penalty and the corner, they didn’t create too many chances in open play,” he said.
Stajcic wouldn’t rest on his laurels though, insisting that the hard work and positives need to end up in results sooner rather than later.
“There’s lots of positives but that’s two games in a row where we’ve played better football or maybe even been the better team but come out on the wrong end of the result.
“We know the game is about goals, that is obviously the most important factor and that’s the performance on which we’re judged.
“Apart from the result we played well, but we need to score more of our chances that we created and at the same time we conceded off a set piece which is disappointing,” he said.
Website, Oct 12
David Jordan, Central Coast Mariners Media