Graham Arnold’s first match back in Gosford since leaving the Central Coast Mariners for Sydney FC ended in a 5-1 thumping in favour of the Sky Blues on Saturday night.
After going up by two in the opening 20 minutes, Sydney played with ease and confidence to record their first win in Gosford since 2008 and keep their hopes of a top-two finish alive.
In front of more than 12,000 fans – their biggest crowd of the season – not a lot went right for the Mariners, whose momentum leading into the Asian Cup break came to a screeching halt.
WHAT THEY SAID
“It was mixed emotions. I know these boys really well so it’s always mixed emotions. (The new boys) made a massive difference tonight. We just have to build on this now as it’s been a while since we’ve had a win. - Sydney FC attacker Bernie Ibini
“I know (coach Phil Moss) likes to be positive but I don’t think there is any positives in that first half. For 10 years we’ve always been committed but it’s just not good enough for a team that’s done so well at home before. I’d like to say sorry to the fans and the members. – Mariners skipper John Hutchinson
Janko 15’ (0-1) – After a great through-ball, Alex Brosque slid from inside the box and tapped the ball to Alex Gersbach out wide. Gersbach’s floated cross found Janko unmarked in the area and the Austrian had time to control before finding the back of the net.
Naumoff 18’ (0-2) – A virtual replay of the opener but from the opposite side of the field. Terrible defending from the Mariners gave Christopher Naumoff plenty of time to pick his spot and slide a half-volley to the back post.
Ibini 44’ (0-3) – It was all too easy for the former Mariner. He let a through-ball roll in front of him into the box and coolly put the ball inside the far post. At this point fears of another Adelaide-Newcastle rout from earlier in the day were on the cards.
Janko 48’ (0-4) – Zack Anderson looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him after Janko pounced on a terrible attempted back-pass and lobbed the ball into the net for a 4-0 lead.
Major 66’ (1-4) – A length of the field break after a Sydney corner saw Josh Rose selflessly set-up Travis Major in the box for his first ever A-League goal.
Alex Brosque 71’ (1-5) – Ibini played Janko into the box, Janko cut it back to Brosque and the skipper finished a nice passage of play with a shot to the far post.
OK, so going down 2-0 in the first quarter never looks good, but when it happens as early as it did, there’s always hope you can drag yourself back into the contest. When Ibini pushed the gap to three just before halftime though, the match as a contest was over. There would be no comeback. Sections of the Central Coast faithful weren’t shy about voicing their disproval as the Mariners trudged from the field at halftime.
OPTA DATA STATS
Sydney completed 487 passes, 125 more than the Mariners, and had 18 shots at goal compared to 9 for the hosts. Despite ending up on the wrong side of a 3-0 yellow card count, Sydney FC hardly ever looked like conceding, winning 85% of their tackles.
If you had to pick a moment, Naumoff’s one-touch finish was simply sublime, but Sydney’s complete dominance was just as impressive. The visitors completed 89% of their passes and at times seemed capable of setting up scoring chances at will.
Anderson’s back-pass summed up the night for the Mariners. Confidence shot, poor decision making, execution lacking. Easy pickings for Sydney.
Central Coast Mariners: Liam Reddy, Josh Rose, Jacob Poscoliero, Zachary Anderson, John Hutchinson (c), Mitchell Duke, Anthony Caceres (Travis Major 57’), Nick Fitzgerald, Glen Trifiro (Nick Montgomery 45’), Matthew Simon, Eddy Bosnar
Sydney FC: Vedran Janjetovic, Nikola Petkovic, Milos Dimitrejevic, Bernie Ibini, Christopher Naumoff, Alex Brosque (c), Alexander Gersbach, Marc Janko (Shane Smeltz 75’), Aaron Calver, Jaxques Faty (Matthew Jurman 82’), Mikael Tavares (Rhyan Grant 60’)
Scorers: Sydney: Janko (2), Naumoff, Ibini, Brosque
Yellow cards: Tavares (34’), Mark Janko (50’), Grant (79’)
Red cards: None
Conditions: Hot and muggy.