Central Coast defender Josh Rose feels the send-off of Nick Fitzgerald was the decisive moment of his side’s loss to Sydney FC on Saturday night.
With scores locked at 1-1 just before half-time, Fitzgerald received a second yellow card in the space of just two minutes for a reckless collision with Sydney’s Milos Dimitrijevic.
The home side battled superbly for another 40 minutes one man down but were eventually overrun as two late Matt Simon goals gave the Sky Blues a 3-1 win.
Despite the defeat – the Mariners third in a row – Rose saw plenty of positives for his side he hopes can be a catalyst for success as the season progresses.
“We definitely had our chances and I thought it was quite a good game,” Rose told ABC Radio afterwards.
“But it was always going to be an uphill battle against a good team like Sydney when we went a man down.
“In patches we were pretty good. We played to the game plan and even when we went a man down we still caused a bit of trouble at times.
“When they got their second goal in knocked the wind out of us a bit and we couldn’t come back from there unfortunately.”
A lot has been made of the Mariners’ bold, attacking style this season and even with 10-men they tried to take the game to Sydney.
While their current losing streak is sure to ramp up the pressure on everyone at the club, Rose insists they won’t be changing their philosophy.
“That’s our game plan for the season. Just because we’ve had a couple of losses we can’t give up on that now,” the left-back declared.
“We’ve got to keep battling, keep working on what we’re doing wrong and hopefully we’ll improve and keep entertaining.
“We showed even with 10 men we were still going to play that way.
“We died a little bit which was understandable but definitely with 11 men, especially when we play at home, we’ll push for the 90, that’s for sure.
“We’ve got to keep moving forward as a unit and hopefully improve as we go along.”
The Mariners are at home again next weekend, with Wellington Phoenix heading to Gosford on Sunday for what looms as a massive clash.