All square in Sydney
Sydney FC has missed the opportunity to claim all three points for the first time this season by drawing 1-1 against the Central Coast Mariners at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
Sydney FC missed the opportunity to claim all three points for the first time this season by drawing 1-1 against the Central Coast Mariners at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
The home side appeared in the ascendency with 20 minutes remaining, holding a one-goal lead thanks to a Rhyan Grant strike two minutes after the interval.
However the Mariners, inspired by substitute Patricio Perez, came to life during the second half and earned themselves a deserved share of the points.
Debutant Perez equalised from the penalty spot for the Mariners after he went down close to goal under the challenge of Liam Reddy who earned a red card.
Sydney sorely missed injured duo, striker Alex Brosque and energetic captain and central midfielder Terry McFlynn, with the champions struggling to maintain any fluency throughout the match.
A disjointed first half only occasionally came to life with notably Mark Bridge seeing his deflected effort hit the post on the 12-minute mark.
The same post came to the rescue of the Mariners on 34 minutes as defender Sebastian Ryall, without an A-League goal to his name, drove his shot onto the frame of the goal.
A scrappy first half was slowly coming to life and the Mariners finally threatened the Sydney goal with only some resolute defending from firstly Ryall, and then Shannon Cole, denying the visitors as they looked to pull the trigger.
Sydney opened the scoring just two minutes after the interval following a disastrous mistake from debutant goalkeeper Matthew Ryan.
A low cross from Sung-Hwan Byun was fumbled into the path of Grant who easily tucked away his first Hyundai A-League goal from close range.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold responded by immediately bringing on Argentinian No10 Perez for his Hyundai A-League debut and the midfielder repaid that trust with the equaliser from the penalty spot on 73 minutes.
It soon could have been worse for the home side and even better for Perez. Three minutes after the goal a penalty area scramble ended with a stabbed shot from Perez blocked by a sea of bodies.
Sydney were threatening to unravel and they collected three cautions in as many minutes, while the Mariners enjoyed their best period of the match.
Six minutes from full-time Perez headed a Pedj Bojic cross past replacement goalkeeper Ivan Necevski only to be denied by the offside flag.
Both coaches expressed satisfaction with their respective team-s performances.
"I have to say that we improved our team performance tonight, and our individual performances as well so full credit to our players," said Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka.
"I thought overall we had the better chances and it was probably two points lost," said Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold."
"I said before the game that Sydney were a wounded animal and would come out with a lot of passion and spirit and fight and we had to match that in the first half. We slowly got into the game more and I thought we finished the first half stronger."
Sydney FC 1 (Rhyan Grant 47-)
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Patricio Perez 73- pen)