Stajcic feels Mariners deserved more after late VAR call hands Wanderers victory

Alen Stajcic insists his Central Coast Mariners deserved a result after a late penalty, awarded by VAR, sealed a 2-1 win for Western Sydney Wanderers on their return to Wanderland.

The boys from Gosford took a 1-0 lead when Milan Duric netted the first Hyundai A-League goal at Bankwest Stadium but their lead was short lived.

Mitchell Duke's header from a 41st-minute corner levelled the scores at half-time and the Caltex Socceroos striker netted the winner from 12 yards.

Mariners controlled the larger share of possession, 57%, but let their lead slip away after the 82nd-minute spot-kick was awarded after a video review for handball against Dylan Fox. 

“I don’t know if it was a handball,” Stajcic said.

“I saw it deflect off our player so it can’t be intentional.

“I don’t know how that’s intentional when it deflects off our guy from one yard away at that speed.”

REPORT: Duke's double leads Wanderers to dream homecoming win over Mariners
REACTION: Babbel welcomes winds of change to all-new Wanderland

Duke kept his composure to decide the first Hyundai A-League match in Parramatta for three years, but both sides were pushing for a winner as the game opened up.

Western Sydney custodian Daniel Lopar blocked from Jordan Murray when he was through on goal with the scores at 1-1 in the 70th minute, and Central Coast keeper Mark Birighitti made a double stop from Wanderers’ subs Kosta Grozos and Mohamed Adam with 15 minutes remaining.

After Duke's decisive penalty, Jack Clisby and Ziggy Gordon were each denied an equaliser in stoppage time by Lopar as the visitors came up short.

Following back-to-back wooden spoons, Stajcic believes he saw signs that Central Coast were turning the corner in 2019/20.

“I thought we deserved something out of the game.”

“I thought in the first half we were more dominant with the ball, and creating chances, than the second half,” he added.

“Lots of positives for us to take away. We controlled large portions of the game, we had passages, build ups, we were threatening in attack.

“I thought our attack looked dangerous and our defence looked solid at the back. Apart from the penalty and the corner I don’t think they created many chances from open play.

“It’s two games in a row now where we have played better football, or have been the better team, but have been on the wrong end of the result.

“We take a lot positives but certainly a lot to improve on.”