Perez helps Mariners to second

Midfield maestro Patricio Perez turned in his best performance of the season to help the Central Coast Mariners regain second spot in the Hyundai A-League after a come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Sydney FC at Gosford on Sunday.

Midfield maestro Patricio Perez turned in his best performance of the season to help the Central Coast Mariners regain second spot in the Hyundai A-League after a come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Sydney FC at Gosford on Sunday.

Perez was at his scheming best throughout and needed to be after Sydney dominated much of the first stanza against a tired looking Mariners outfit.

Teenager Dimitri Petratos scored two first-half goals to have the visitors on course for an upset victory at Bluetongue Stadium.

The young striker beat the off-side trap to open the scoring in the 17th minute before capitalising on a terrible blunder from veteran defender Patrick Zwaanswijk 10 minutes later to put Sydney two goals clear.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold changed his formation at half-time, playing three up front and only three defenders with striker Daniel McBreen coming on for defender Trent Sainsbury.

The move paid off four minutes into the second half when Perez cut inside Stephan Keller and fired home with his left foot. It was his fourth goal of the season and first from open play.

In the 57th minute Perez was the provider when his well-placed freekick was headed home by Matt Simon to make the score 2-2. It was Simon's 11th goal of the season.

The Mariners dominated the final 25 minutes but failed to score a winner. McBreen had a low shot saved by Sydney goalkeeper Liam Reddy in the 79th minute and replacement Mustafa Amini fired over from close range with only two minutes to play.

McBreen thought he won the match with another chance in injury time but his header went just wide.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold had nothing but praise for his team after the match.

"The character in this team is unbelievable," he said.

"They were out on their feet after five games in 14 days. I congratulate them on that performance."

Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka said he never felt like his team had done enough despite going in at half-time two goals up.

"The second half the Mariners made some changes and put us under pressure," he said.

"We had a couple of chances to go 3-1 up and didn't take them."

Central Coast 2 (Patricio Perez 49-, Matt Simon 57-) Sydney 2 (Dimitri Petratos 17-, 27-) Crowd: 10,546