Stajcic bemoans another missed opportunity for Mariners

Alen Stajcic cursed his Central Coast Mariners’ lack of execution in key moments following the 1-1 F3 Derby draw against Newcastle Jets.

Milan Duric gave the Yellow and Navy a dream start against their local rivals in Gosford, rifling a strike in after four minutes, but Dimi Petratos’ re-taken penalty on 56 minutes rescued a point for the visitors.

Head coach Stajcic must feel like it is ground hog day after his team struck first in their previous three outings without being able to hold on a win.

The Mariners crashed out of the FFA Cup Semi Final earlier this month having led against Adelaide United at home and were beaten by the same scoreline, 2-1, after going up against Western Sydney Wanderers last week.

“We’re the would have, should have and could have team at the moment,” said Stajcic.

“We could have beat Adelaide a couple of weeks ago in the [FFA Cup] Semi Final, we should have beat Wanderers last week and we could have won [against Jets]. 

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“We’re very close but there are key moments of the game where we’re not executing. 

“When that clicks I think we’re going to be a very dangerous prospect for the finals.”

“We’ve thrown away three leads… if we’re going to be a top six team we have to execute those moments a little better.”

With the tie hanging in the balance in the last 20 minutes, Stajcic believes his side grew into the match.

“I thought we got better as the half wore on,” he added. 

“I thought when Kim [Eun-sun] and Ruon [Tongyik] came on, I thought we started to get a little bit more control of the ball and the game. 

“When Ziggy [Gordon] started getting a bit more forward, we started creating a few chances. Then Milan [Duric] hit the post there at the end, another millimetre off the post, it would have gone in.

“I was pleased we found that much energy, control and composure late in the game.” 

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Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick begged to differ, insisting his team had the best of the final exchanges as both teams went out to snatch three points and local bragging rights.

“The longer the game went, the Mariners just started to sit back and they were just relying on counter attacks,” Merrick said.

“I was pretty happy the way we kept pressing to try and get the winner.”

After the boys from the Hunter had a longer pre-season than any other club, the Scotsman was satisfied with the Jets' performance considering it was their first Hyundai A-League match of the campaign.

“About 57% possession, 12 shots to six, twice as many balls in the penalty box and three times as many corners, 12 to 4. So the stats are all in our favour, but we didn’t convert as we should,” he said.

“It’s our first game, away from home, to dominate the game in the way we did, I’m pretty happy with a first up performance.”

This chalkboard shows shots, crosses and key passes in the last 20 minutes of the F3 Derby.

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