Sydney FC all but ensured themselves of a semi final spot in the Hyundai A-League Pre-Season Cup with a hard fought 2-0 victory over a spirited Central Coast Mariners squad at Central Coast Stadium tonight.

Sydney FC all but ensured themselves of a semi final spot in the Hyundai A-League Pre-Season Cup with a hard fought 2-0 victory over a spirited Central Coast Mariners squad at Central Coast Stadium tonight.

The Oceania Club Champions scored twice in the second term through Steve Corica and Sasho Petrovski after being forced to defend strongly for most of the first half against a fired up and physical Central Coast side.

The win follows Sydney FC-s 3-1 defeat of the New Zealand Knights in their hometown debut last week and extends the club-s unbeaten streak to 17 games. Sydney FC can guarantee themselves a home semi final with victory in their next game against Queensland Roar in Cairns at 7pm next Saturday.

Corica-s goal came from a dazzling piece of individual brilliance that saw the Sydney FC Captain dispossess the opposing skipper Noel Spencer on the edge of the Mariners box, before controlling the ball and firing home the game-s first goal with his second touch.

The goal was just reward for Corica who was involved throughout and only just missed out on a double when he broke down the left and forced his shot across the front of the posts in the 84th minute.

Sydney FC-s second goal came from a piece of Dwight Yorke genius in the 79th minute.

Yorke danced around a Mariners defender before feeding the sweetest of balls to defender Iain Fyfe in the left corner.

Fyfe then put the ball back into prolific finisher Sasho Petrovski who clinically put away his third goal in two Pre-Season Cup matches.

Up until that point Yorke had been solid without looking like scoring although to be fair to the Trinidad and Tobago international he was given limited chances .

The scoreless first half was dominated by the Mariners who had a mountain of possession and at least four good scoring chances including a missed penalty by Nick Mrdja.

Despite not seeing too much ball Sydney FC defended stoutly with Fyfe a rock at the back, stifling wave after wave of Mariners- attack.

The best chance of the half came in the 38th minute when referee Matthew Breeze had pointed to the penalty spot after Tom Pondeljak fed a flying Stewart Petrie who threaded the ball to the left of an advancing Clint Bolton, before colliding with the Sydney FC goalie.

Mrdja-s weak shot was saved well low and to the left by Bolton to preserve the nil-nil score line.

The first chance for the home side came from almost nothing in the fourth minute when Mrdja found Wayne O-Sullivan whose shot rocketed into the right corner of the crossbar with Bolton seemingly beaten.

Pondeljak also had several chances including a header in the 36th minute that just cleared the bar.

Sydney FC had their chances too, with Petrovski-s shot from a David Carney deflection in the 25th minute the best.

Captain Corica almost scored four minutes before the break when his powerful volley from Terry McFlynn-s cross was well saved by Mariners goal keeper John Crawley.

As well as Fyfe and Corica, midfielder Carney was busy on the right side and threatened as he moved forward a number of times, particularly in the second half.

After the match Sydney FC coach Pierre Littbarski said he was happy with the result, particularly considering how much ball the opposition had in the opening quarter of football.

“We did well to win and overall we were the best team tonight,” Littbarski said. “They really took the game to us in the opening 25 minutes but we came back strongly, particularly in the second half.

“It was a very physical match and that will happen to us every week because every one wants to win as much as us and everyone wants to beat us.”

Meanwhile, Sydney FC-s next opponent the Queensland Roar will be brimming with confidence after demolishing the New Zealand Knights 5-0 in Auckland tonight but Sydney FC.

Sydney FC 2 (Steve Corica 47th min, Sasho Petrovski 79th min) defeated Central Coast Mariners 0 Central Coast Stadium, Gosford Saturday July 30, 2005 Referee: Matthew Breeze Crowd: 8326 Sydney FC 1. Clint Bolton 2. Iain Fyfe 3. Alvin Ceccoli 6. Ufuk Talay 10. Steve Corica (c) 11. Sasho Petrovski 12. David Carney 14. Andrew Packer 15. Terry McFlynn 17. Jacob Timpano 19. Dwight Yorke Substitutes: 7. Robbie Middleby on for 6. Ufuk Talay (82nd min) 5. Steve Laurie, 13. Alejandro Salazar, 20. Justin Pasfield did not play Yellow cards: Sasho Petrovski (29th min), Clint Bolton (38th min), Andrew Packer (65th min) Central Coast Mariners 1. John Crawley 2. Wayne O-Sullivan 4. Noel Spencer (c) 5. Michael Beauchamp 7. John Hutchinson 8. Dean Heffernan 9. Nick Mrdja 10. Tom Pondeljak 12. Stewart Petrie 15. Andrew Clark 18. Alex Wilkinson Substitutes: 19. Adam Kwasnik on for 7. John Hutchinson (77th min) 6. Andre Gumprecht on for Noel Spencer (79th min) 17. Mathew Osman on for 2. Wayne O-Sullivan (82nd min) 20. Danny Vukovic did not play

Yellow cards: John Hutchinson (66th min)