Perez lights up derby

The NSW derby between Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners appeared headed for a hard-fought 1-0 win for the home side until the introduction of Argentine Patricio Perez.

The NSW derby between Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners at the Sydney Football Stadium appeared headed for a hard-fought 1-0 win for the home side until the second-half introduction of Argentine Patricio Perez.

The attacking midfielder had missed the first three matches of the season with a hamstring injury but made up for his absence with an impressive cameo performance coming off the bench soon after the Mariners had fallen behind to Rhyan Grant-s goal.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold had been promising big things from his star off-season recruit and the No10 did not disappoint.

Looking lively and willing to receive possession whenever possible, the former FIFA U-20 World Cup-winner brought about the equaliser after winning and converting a penalty to ensure the match finished all square.

It could have been even better for Perez who saw a header disallowed for offside, but regardless the portents are most promising for the Mariners.

Arnold was delighted with the showing of the 25-year-old, doubly so given his lack of match fitness.

"He did OK," stated Arnold with a smile. "And he is only 60 per cent fit, so I'm looking forward to him being 100 per cent fit. He is coming along all the time (fitness-wise) so we will see how he goes again this week.

"Just by him being on the field he gives our player confidence because he wants the ball all the time. He is special. He is a good player and hopefully the supporters of all clubs should enjoy watching him."

Arnold also reserved words of encouragement for teenage goalkeeper Matthew Ryan whose error lead to the Sydney goal.

Ryan was called into the starting line-up yesterday for his Hyundai A-League debut after regular custodian Jess van Stratten suffered a serious knee injury at training.

"He is 18-years-of age but kids make mistakes at times but he is fine," said Arnold. "He has a hell of a good future. I have a lot of confidence in him as all the players have and I thought he had a good debut."

The evening was not so positive for Sydney FC with the champions having failed to register a win in any of their opening four matches, despite having lead in both of their home fixtures.

"We improved our performances from the past two weeks, said Sydney FC midfielder Stuart Musialik, who filled in as captain in place of the injured Terry McFlynn. "We're heading in the right direction, it's just important we get over this disappointment and look forward to next week."