Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold admits his side was lucky to beat Central Coast Mariners on Saturday but feels the come-from-behind win shows they have the character for the Hyundai A-League title fight.
It took three goals in the last 22 minutes for the in-form Sky Blues to escape with a crucial 4-2 victory over the brave Mariners at Allianz Stadium.
“The positive out it was four goals, three points and the character we showed when we went 2-1 down to come back but I’m a grumpy man tonight,” Arnold said afterwards.
“They got in behind is too easy, there was no pressure on the ball and we didn’t track runners.
“The Mariners were good today, they deserved more. It’s very healthy when I can look around the bench and bring on Shane Smeltz who can change the game.
“We ran the game out well but overall I’m not happy with the game, I’m just happy with the result.”
Sydney ran out comfortable 5-1 winners when the two sides met just four weeks ago but were sloppy in defence for much of the contest.
It was only a number of superb stops from ‘keeper Vedran Janjetovic which denied the visitors from scoring more.
Asked if his side were a little complacent against one of the competition’s strugglers, Arnold said: “I hope not. We spoke about it before the game that that's the only way we could have lost today. It was our own attitude and mentality.
“We talked about the Mariners hurting after losing 5-1 and I spoke to the senior players about driving the ship forward and making sure we turned up but the first 60 minutes it wasn’t good.
“I know the fans have gone home extremely happy and the spectacle of six goals but I’ll be studying the video tonight to fix our defence.”
Sydney looked on track for a comfortable afternoon when Marc Janko’s early header gave them the lead but a brace either side of the break by Fabio Ferreira had the Mariners on the cusp of a huge shock.
But substitutes Rhyan Grant and Smeltz came off the bench to score before Janko completed the fightback in stoppage time.
Under-fire defender Sebastian Ryall was left out of the squad but Arnold denied it had anything to do with his tumultuous week, which included a tribunal hearing for alleged simulation in the clash with Melbourne Victory last weekend.
“He was at high risk this week because he played 90 minutes (against Victory) after a quad injury and not doing anything for four weeks,” the Sky Blues boss said.
“If we had put him out there again he could have done (an injury) again and we didn’t want to do that because we have the numbers at the moment.
“He’ll have a good 10 days of hard training so when he’s ready to come back he’ll be 100 percent ready to go.”Which Arnold will hope is in time for next weekend’s huge Sydney derby against the Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium.