Central Coast Mariners coach Phil Moss has challenged his side to show the same aggression and attacking intent for the rest of the season after almost upsetting high-flyers Sydney FC.
The Mariners produced one of their most eye-catching performances of the season at Allianz Stadium, only to be over-run in the last 25 minutes conceding three times in the 4-2 defeat.
New recruit Fabio Ferreira scored a sensational brace but the visitors could have had a few more goals as well as they constantly got in behind the Sky Blues defence.
“I’m pinching myself after that. The best team lost on the day,” a disappointed Moss said.
“We threatened every time we went forward, created something like 10 goal-scoring opportunities which is the type of football I want to play.
“I’ve said all season we’ve got to turn good football into effective and winning football. We turned it into effective football today but didn’t get the result.”
Ferreira was brilliant for the Mariners but it was they couldn’t hold on as late goals to Rhyan Grant, Shane Smeltz and Marc Janko (who ended with a brace), handed Sydney victory.
While their ACL campaign ended abruptly on Tuesday night and their Hyundai A-League finals hopes are almost dead and buried, Moss expects the Mariners to end the season with a flurry.
“We’ve copped a battering. We adopted a mentality today that it was us against the world and that’s the sort of aggression and mental resolve I expect every week,” he said.
“We’re out of Asia, everyone’s saying our season is dead and buried. It’s up to us and only we can go out there and prove otherwise.
“If nothing else, we’re not going to die wondering over the next 10 weeks.
“When a coach of (Graham Arnold’s) stature says we deserved a lot more out of the game, that feels me with pride because I know our players deserves more.
“The difference was a marquee in Janko and one of the all-time leading goal-scorers in the A-League (Smeltz) which Arnie had the luxury of bringing off the bench.”
Asked what he said to the players after the match, the Mariners boss said: “If we keep playing like that and we’ll win a lot more than we lose.
“That’s what we’ve been working towards this season. It’s taken longer than I would have liked to get to that sort of football but we didn’t have a bad player today.
“Isaka Cernak came in and he hasn’t had a lot of football this season but he was threatening every time he got the ball and Fabio Ferreira, that was outstanding from him and why I bought him to the club.”