Sydney FC’s late double strike ensures win over brave Mariners
Sydney FC continued their procession towards the Hyundai A-League Premiership with another professional display to beat Central Coast Mariners 3-0 in Gosford on Sunday night.
Sky Blues star Milos Ninkovic scored inside the first eight minutes before two young guns came off the bench to ice the result in style late on.
Marco Tilio – on his Hyundai A-League debut – scored just a minute after coming onto the pitch before Harry van der Saag scored a stunning third in injury time.
The win also means Steve Corica’s side have extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches and they have opened up a 13-point lead at the top of the ladder – with a game in hand on Perth Glory.
It wasn’t the defending champions most fluent performance of the campaign but the result will be extremely pleasing considering their long trip to Japan for the AFC Champions League in midweek.
The Mariners arguably deserved more for their endeavour but were unable to land a killer blow in front of goal.
They did get the ball past Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne just before half-time but Gianni Stensness’ header was ruled out for offside.
The defeat means the Mariners have won just one of their last 17 games against the Sky Blues, while they remain on the foot of the ladder on the back of six straight Hyundai A-League defeats.
McGowan shows why he’s a defender
It took less than four minutes for Sydney FC to muster their first chance and it really should have resulted in a goal.
Rhyan Grant showed great awareness to head Luke Brattan’s free-kick back across the face of goal with the ball making it’s way to Ryan McGowan six yards out.
Just as it looked like the central defender would blast it into the net, he miscued his shot and it sailed over the bar.
Ninkovic puts Sydney FC into an early lead
What a superb start by the runaway league leaders.
Another flowing team move ends with Mariners defender Lewis Miller failing to deal with a cross from the right, and Ninkovic makes him pay.
The Serbian flicked the ball on the bounce past a helpless Mark Birighitti to give the Sky Blues a reward for their early dominance.
Mariners fume as Stensness goal ruled out
The first half ended in controversy as the Mariners thought they had an equaliser when Gianni Stensness headed in from a free-kick, only for the assistant referee’s flag going up for offside.
While replays showed Stensness was onside, Mariners skipper Kim Eun-son wasn’t and he prevented Sydney FC defender Alex Wilkinson from challenging for the ball.
After consultation with VAR Kris Griffiths-Jones, the disallowed goal was confirmed, much to the fury of the home fans.
Tilio ices the cake for the Sky Blues
What a moment for the youngster on his Hyundai A-League debut!
Just a minute after coming off the bench, Tilio ensures all three points for the Sky Blues with a composed finish after being set up by fellow youngster Harry van der Saag!
Van der Saag gets in on the act
After being provider just a couple of minutes earlier, van der Saag then did it all himself in the first minute of stoppage time.
A swift counter attack which included excellent build-up play from Tilio and Trent Buhagiar ends with van der Saag rifling a shot past Birighitti from the edge of the box.
Western United FC v Central Coast Mariners
Sunday, 1 March
Kick-off: 4pm AEDT
Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday, 28 February
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 8pm AEDT