Stajcic remains upbeat despite ninth-straight Mariners loss
Central Coast Mariners boss Alen Stajcic says his team are showing they're not willing to throw in the towel, despite notching their ninth consecutive Hyundai A-League loss in a slender 1-0 defeat to Brisbane Roar.
The result leaves Stajcic’s side firmly entrenched on the bottom of the league table on 13 points with four wins, one draw and 16 losses to their name across the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League campaign.
But Stajcic – whilst conceding keeping spirits high in the Mariners camp is a growing challenge – says there were plenty of positives to take from his side’s marginal loss to the Roar; signs that show his side still have the hunger and aren’t going to end the season without putting up a fight.
“Of course it’s tough keeping confidence up and morale, it’s extremely tough," Stajcic told FOX Sports post-match.
"I think you saw a team out there that’s playing with a lot of heart and a lot of spirit, and not throwing the towel in which I’m really proud of.
"From a club and a team perspective I think we represented our club and our community really well tonight.
"Of course, it's all about results.
"I said last week we are a team that’s developing and growing, there’s so many kids out there in their first real year of [Hyundai] A-League.
"There [are] a lot of things to learn... a lot of things that need to get better quickly, but on the pitch I was really proud with the effort they put in tonight.”
But with pride comes immense frustration for Stajcic, who watched his side waste a number of chances to go ahead in the first half of their contest with the Roar.
The Mariners looked the better side for much of the opening stanza but Chris Harold, Jordan Murray and Daniel De Silva all spurned opportunities to score.
In letting Brisbane off the hook the Mariners handed their opponents the chance to make them pay, and they did just that when Scott McDonald scored the only goal of the game just seconds before the half-time break.
Reflecting on his side’s first-half opportunities, Stajcic conceded their wasted momentum was the ultimate difference in the tightly-contested game.
“The first half an hour when we were on top, we probably should have had two or three there," Stajcic said.
“You’ve just got to capitalise on those moments when you’re on top, and we failed to do so.
“When you have momentum you’ve got to take the lead in those moments and we didn’t.
“They ended up capitalising with a little through ball and [Brad Inman was] onside by an inch.
“That proved to be the difference tonight.”
Stajcic’s goalkeeper Mark Birighitti echoed his coach’s frustrations after the match.
After pulling off a handful of impressive saves - as he has throughout most games this season – Birighitti lamented his team’s inability to get on the scoresheet and ease the mounting pressure on his shoulders down the other end.
“Where do I start?” Asked a frustrated Birighitti when pondering what went wrong for the Mariners.
“To give away a goal 30 seconds before half time, it hasn’t only happened tonight, it’s happened quite a bit this season.
“I think it’s a mentality thing; I think we switch off at key moments of the game.
“From our behalf it’s just not good enough.
Birighitti continued: “It’s not great, obviously I think that’s [nine] games without a win now.
“I’m just trying to play my part week in, week out and try and help the team.
“We do concede a lot of shots, it is what it is.
“I have to be ready every week and like I said try and play my part for the team, hopefully the strikers can do their part in the coming games.”
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 22 March
Kick-off: 6pm AEDT
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City
Friday, 20 March
Central Coast Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT