Mariners better for friendly run

Central Coast Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said his team had learned some valuable lessons for its first foray into Asia after going down 2-1 to Chinese outfit Jiangsu Sainty in a friendly match at Kunshan Sports Centre on Saturday evening.

Central Coast Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said his team had learned some valuable lessons for its first foray into Asia after going down 2-1 to Chinese outfit Jiangsu Sainty in a friendly match at Kunshan Sports Centre on Saturday evening.

The Mariners took the lead just before half-time courtesy of a Matthew Osman header but the hosts responded through Deng Zhuoxiang and Qin Sheng in the second half to secure victory in freezing temperatures in China's east.

McKinna said his side had taken some pointers from the loss, particularly in regard to gamesmanship and difference in refereeing interpretations, which they expect to encounter throughout the Asian Champions League.

McKinna used his entire 18-man squad throughout the match in order to give each player a chance to get acclimatised to the Chinese conditions before its next hit-out against reigning Chinese Super League champions Shandong Luneng.

"There were some good points for us to take out of the game - we got every sub on, which was important, whereas on Tuesday we'll be looking to put out more of a settled team," he said.

"There were a few promising things, if we had come in at half-time and kept our settled team I'm sure we would have held on to the result, but it was important to give everybody a run today."

"It was a good hit-out and overall we got a bit out of the game."

McKinna said he was looking towards a good performance against Shandong on Tuesday.

"It'd be nice to get a result against Shandong Luneng, obviously they are one of the powerhouses in China and it would be good to put in a disciplined performance against them," said McKinna.

"There were long parts of today's game where we were very disciplined, but we've just been switching off and giving away bad goals and that's what we did today."

"Hopefully we can keep our concentration levels up and Shandong will be a good team, but I'm sure we'll be better for the run today."

Meanwhile, Sydney FC finished its 2008/09 campaign with a 2-1 friendly loss to Shanghai Shenhua at Hongkou Stadium.

John Aloisi gave the home fans a few scary moments - having two goals disallowed - but a late winner from Chen Lei sent the 10,000 supporters into raptures.

Shanghai Shenhua opened the scoring through Argentinean import Hernan Barcos in the 32nd minute with Sydney keeper Ivan Necevski continually put under pressure from the strong Chinese Super League side.

But Alex Brosque equalised after half-time when rising star Kofi Danning made a break down the right and picked out Brosque with a perfect near-post cross that was skilfully volleyed into the back of the net.

The match looked headed for a draw before a quality finish from Lei with just two minutes to play stole the game for the home team.

Shanghai Shenhua 2 (Hernan Barcos 32', Chen Lei 88') Sydney FC 1 (Alex Brosque 58')

Jiangsu Sainty 2 (Deng Zhuoxiang, Qin Sheng) Central Coast Mariners 1 (Matthew Osman 40')