Mulvey: 'Excellent' Mariners should focus on positives despite Sky Blue drubbing
His side may have conceded five second-half goals on Friday night, but Central Coast Mariners manager Mike Mulvey won’t let that overshadow his depleted side’s performance against Sydney FC .
The 5-2 scoreline was in many ways misleading as the Mariners started brightly, dominating large parts of play and going a goal up through Connor Pain, before two yellow cards to defender Kalifa Cisse put the Sky Blues back in control.
The second yellow card in the 25th minute undid some positive work from the visitors as they applied pressure to Sydney and severely disrupted the hosts' rhythm.
While deflated post-match, Mulvey said he saw more than enough from his chargers early on to suggest progress was being made for the winless Mariners.
“Let’s dwell on some real positives,” Mulvey said.
“I thought we were excellent in the first half and we break that into two parts, we break that into up until the send-off and then after the send-off so we adjusted quite well.
“I thought we deserved the lead at half-time, we definitely deserved to be in front, we played some fantastic football and we had them on the back foot, the send-off changed everything.”
Although they made it to half-time with their 1-0 lead intact, a Sky Blue blitz after the break, including a penalty and a hat-trick to captain Alex Brosque, restored Sydney’s dominance over their northern neighbours.
Cisse’s two bookable offences, one for dissent and the other for a reckless challenge, radically altered the Mariners' game plan, forcing them to abandon their attacking intent for defensive structure.
“It [second yellow] changed the game completely,” Mulvey said.
“We asked the guys to produce a performance and we certainly did it, we were very adventurous, we played Connor wide left, we played Matty Millar, we really tried to get at them.
“We tried to pin back their centre-backs and we tried to get our wing-backs into those channels and areas and it paid dividends with the goal from Connor.
“It was a fantastic team goal and we deserved it but then we get the send-off and it’s backs to the wall…for the second half and injury time we were defending.”
Despite a damaging second half, Mulvey praised his side’s attitude in the face of adversity.
“The players gave everything in the first half,” he said.
“They gave as much as they could in the second half and yeah we’ve been beaten 5-2 at the end of the day, it’s a bad score line but the send-off changed the game.
"And then the penalty - maybe Sydney would have gone on to win the game anyway, they have a lot of quality but that’s a killer.”