When thoroughly dissecting a season for a true assessment of its success, it is often more important to examine the areas for improvement than anything else. Unfortunately, today is that day, as we pick the five matches that the Mariners just werent at the ball game. Perhaps of slight consolation, however, is that we wont dwell on them for too long.
5. ACL Matchday 1 - FC Seoul 2 v 0 Central Coast Mariners
In what would conclude one of the most barren footballing months in Central Coast Mariners history, the Gosford club travelled to the Korean capital for their opening Asian Champions League fixture on the back of four consecutive league defeats throughout February of 2014. FC Seoul were the reigning ACL runners up and they proved it against a jetlagged Mariners outift with a clinical display to dispose of an Australian side lacking the mental edge and attacking flair to pose any threat to the K-League giants.
Ironically, this loss would galvanise the squad as they then gathered momentum both domestically as well as in Asia to round out their season in both competitions with dignity.
4. Hyundai A-League Round 18 - Central Coast Mariners 1 v 3 Melbourne Victory
After Bernie Ibini put the Mariners ahead after just 11 minutes with his first goal since returning from China, the Mariners dropped to third gear and played like they had five minutes to hold on to their lead for the remaining 80+ minutes of the fixture. A James Troisi goal moments before half time was an early death sentence for the Coast as they came out after the break with no added resolve and watched Melbourne put on a clinic in finishing chances to run away with the result in Gosford and consign the Mariners to their second home loss of the season.
3. Hyundai A-League Round 13 - Central Coast Mariners 0 v 0 Melbourne Heart
In one of the most dour affairs of football at Central Coast Stadium in quite some time, the Mariners welcomed a Melbourne Heart side rooted to the bottom of the table and reeling after then coach John Aloisi had been sacked just before christmas. The first match of the new year for the two sides, however, could very easily have been painted red and white after the Central Coast seemed to still be bringing in 2014 as they didnt turn up at all and were simply lucky the Heart still had Michael Mifsud on the books and could not finish a sandwich let alone a goal.
2. Hyundai A-League Round 20 - Central Coast Mariners 1 v 4 Wellington Phoenix
The Mariners did not conceed more than two goals in any game during their title winning campaign of 2012/13 and lost just one home game in that same period. Yet at the end of February, Wellington added further pain to a deep open wound in the Central Coast dressing room with a drubbing in front of the faithful Yellow Army to see the Gosford club go winless in the second month of the year. Again, it was Bernie Ibini who gave the home fans something to cheer for with the opener after 20 minutes, but for the second consecutive home game the Mariners closed up shop and like the paying spectators simply watched on as a second half onslaught lead by Carlos Hernandez saw the Phoenix restore parity minutes into the second stanza before piling on three more that even produced faintest of smiles from the relatively emotionless Ernie Merrick.
1. Hyundai A-League Round 10 - Adelaide United 4 v 0 Central Coast Mariners
A combination of wasteful finishing and lacklustre defending in the city of churches was punished by Josep Gombau's men in what was unquestionably the Mariners worst performance of A-League season nine. Countless errors in the back third did nothing to alleviate the situation against an Adelaide side on the rise at the hands of their Spanish jefe, whilst numerous early opportunities went begging for the visitors as the Central Coast were sentenced by 11 red judges to their first four goal loss since November of 2010.
Dishonourable Mentions: Hyundai A-League Round 8 - Central Coast Mariners 0 v 0 Melbourne Victory, Hyundai A-League Round 11- Western Sydney Wanderers 2 v 0 Central Coast Mariners.
Have Your Say: Do you agree with the Mariners Top 5 Losses as listed above? Which game do you think needed the most improvement?
Be sure to read tomorrow as we round out our 'Mariners Top 5' for season 2013/14 with the five best Mariners goals.