Sky Blues rue late lapse

There was no hiding Sydney captain Terry McFlynn's disappointment after some sloppy defence allowed the Central Coast Mariners to snatch a late equaliser in Saturday night's action-packed Hyundai A-League clash in wet conditions at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.

There was no hiding Sydney captain Terry McFlynn's disappointment after some sloppy defence allowed the Central Coast Mariners to snatch a late equaliser in Saturday night's action-packed Hyundai A-League clash in wet conditions at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.

A second half strike from Joel Chianese looked like being enough for the visitors to earn a crucial three points.

But with time almost up, Mariners replacement Troy Hearfield drifted in unmarked at the back post and headed home after a long throw from the home side to secure the Mariners a share of the competition points. Hearfield was in the right spot to capitalise on what was some poor defence from Sydney.

The 1-1 draw means the Mariners stay in top spot by three points, while the result means Sydney now must beat Melbourne Victory next week to stay alive.

"We've made it difficult for ourselves now," McFlynn said.

"Now we have to win all three games. I thought for most of the game we controlled the tempo."

"Defensively we were pretty good and created enough chances to win."

Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka said despite the disappointment of last week's loss to Wellington and Saturday night's draw, there was still enormous belief in the side.

"We needed more than a point; we need more concentration," he said.

"But we still believe we can make it."

Not for the first time during his nearly two seasons in charge, Mariners coach Graham Arnold said the most pleasing aspect of his side's performance was the character his players showed under real pressure late in the second half.

"I thought we deserved a point," Arnold said.

"As we often have done we had to dig deep, the character in this side is fantastic."

"We got the goal back and in the end I think we were unlucky not to get another one."

Not for the first time during what has been a tough run of results for the competition leaders, the Mariners created chances, but failed to finish several times.

"The day we don't create chances is the day I really start to worry," he said.

The Mariners now turn their attentions to the Asian Champions League where they travel to China to take on Tianjin Teda on Wednesday night.