Football 2 years ago

Mariners lose, but roll on with attack

  • Mariners lose, but roll on with attack

Handed a licence to lose and told to entertain, Central Coast owner Mike Charlesworth could hardly accuse his team of not doing their job against Sydney FC.

Structure and composure seemingly went out the window for both sides in the Mariners' captivating 3-1 A-League loss on Saturday.

But even down to 10 men before halftime with the score locked at 1-1, coach Tony Walmsley's commitment to attack remained unabated.

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It was no more on show than when Nick Fitzgerald's send-off with a second yellow prompted Walmsley to bench defensive midfielder Liam Rose and replace him with winger Mitch Austin.

"It was less an extra winger, it was more to balance the team on both sides of the pitch," the coach said.

"The aim was for Austin and (Fabio) Ferreira to double up with the fullbacks to help defend the situation.

"Being a man down we knew they were going to flip forward, they'd overload down both flanks.

"We wanted to try and keep stepping and pressing and squeezing, but with Austin, Ferreira and (first-half scorer Roy) O'Donovan we knew we had the potential for a swift counter-attack."

The Mariners did make a couple of promising transitions, particularly as Austin broke away to run full tilt and unchallenged down the field, only to weaken in front of goal.

They rallied, and for a moment there was promise the tiring hosts could outlast Sydney's barrage amid the chaos and controversy that defined the match.

That was until Matt Simon, a former favourite Central Coast son, struck twice in the final 10 minutes of regular time, coming off the bench to complement Shane Smeltz's earlier goal and extinguish any hope of a comeback.

Walmsley took his hat off to Simon's pivotal performance in a "crazy" and at times "very strange" game.

"Good on him he's scored two cracking goals ... we want to see goals like that at this stadium," he said.

"I'd much rather they be ours, and in future games I'm sure they will be.

"We bring on Wellington next week, and we're going to have a real crack at them.

"The boys can be proud of the shift they put in with down to 10 men for so long."

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