Late goal stuns Sydney in Central Coast classic

Sydney FC remains locked in a battle for a finals berth after dropping to fifth on the ladder following a 2-1 defeat tonight at the hands of the Central Coast, in the latest thrilling edition of the Hyundai A-League’s fiercest rivalry.

Sydney FC remains locked in a battle for a finals berth after dropping to fifth on the ladder following a 2-1 defeat tonight at the hands of the Central Coast, in the latest thrilling edition of the Hyundai A-League-s fiercest rivalry.

The highly entertaining encounter seemed destined to end in a well-earned draw but a 90th minute penalty sealed the fate of John Kosmina-s men and gave the Mariners just their fourth win over the Sky Blues in thirteen meetings between the teams.

“The Mariners are a good side, they deserve some credit,” said Kosmina after the match. “They were chasing the game and they pushed bodies forward and it is hard to defend against them.”

Whenever Sydney and the Central Coast meet it inevitably results in a classic contest and the early signs suggested Saturday-s round-15 clash would be no different when Alex Brosque-s blazing effort was desperately blocked by the Mariner- defence in the 2nd minute of play.

The match was being contested at a ferocious pace, but after the initial sting subsided it was Sydney that was on the back foot as the home side began to dominate possession, with Clint Bolton called on to show his strength as the Mariners launched raid after raid into his penalty area.

In the 11th minute the Central Coast was in the middle of one-such attack when a dangerous cross deflected towards goal off Brendan Gan-s legs.

Bolton reacted well to parry the ball and deny the blushes with a diving save to his left, but he couldn-t stop the follow up effort however, with Dylan Macallister making no mistake from point-blank range to give his side the early advantage.

The Mariners continued to dictate terms but the Sky Blues looked for every opportunity to get back on even ground.

In the 29th minute Brosque made space for himself to cross down the left and John Aloisi came close with a searching header after ghosting in on the far post.

Ten-minutes later the Sky Blues- marquee intercepted a wayward clearance but his curling shot was again well blocked.

Bolton was still being kept busy at the other end of the field and he denied former team-mate, Sasho Petrovski with an outstanding stop five minutes before the break.

Sydney enjoyed the last opportunity of the half when Bobby Petta made a searching run and was fouled just on the edge of the penalty area by John Hutchinson.

Shannon Cole lined up the free-kick but it was too close to the goal for him to repeat his heroics of round-2 and the scoreline remained unchanged at the end of the first 45.

One minute after the restart Brendan Gan had the chance to claim his second goal in as many weeks when Petta found him on the far post but he couldn-t hit the target with a well-struck header.

Five minutes later it was Sydney that needed saving when Cole was forced to clear off the line following a Central Coast free-kick.

In the 63rd the drama reached its peak when keeper, Danny Vukovic heavily fouled Aloisi giving referee Peter Green no choice but to point to the spot.

The Coast custodian then denied the Australian representative with an athletic save in front of the Mariners faithful but was forced to face the penalty again after Pedj Bojic was ruled to have moved into the area too soon.

Aloisi coolly lined up his second attempt and this time gave the keeper no chance, putting his team back on level terms.

If the atmosphere wasn-t already tense enough Sydney looked set to take the lead soon after when Cole was crudely fouled in the box, but the referee-s decision to award another penalty was quickly reversed when a raised flag from the linesman indicated the closest of off-side calls against the Sky Blues- defender.

The game seemed almost certain to finish in a draw before a final attacking raid from the home side added another twist to the tail.

A flurry of activity in the visiting side-s box saw Macallister go to ground under the weight of an off-balance Iain Fyfe, and Sydney-s fate was all but sealed.

Mile Jedinak buried the resulting penalty in the back of Bolton-s net and the Central Coast was on its way to a rare win over its rival.

Having entered the fray 20 minutes from the end, Sydney skipper Steve Corica had the chance to claim a late equaliser and secure the match-s status as another derby classic but his close-range header couldn-t quite match the perfection of Rob Middleby-s cross and the Central Coast held on to claim maximum points.

“I was happy with the performance,” explained Sydney-s Coach. “You-ve got to show character when things aren-t going well for you and we did that, we-ve done that a lot of late.”

The result adds extra importance to the Sky Blues- next outing - they-ll be back at home next Sunday afternoon chasing a return to the winners list against the seventh-placed Perth Glory.

Match Detail

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Dylan MACALLISTER 11-, Mile JEDINAK 90-P) Sydney FC 1 (John Aloisi 64'P)

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2. Andre GUMPRECHT, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 10. Adrian CACERES (9. Nik MRDJA 90-+1), 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 17. Matthew OSMAN (8. Dean HEFFERNAN 52-), 18. Alex WILKINSON, 22. Sasho PETROVSKI (19. Matt SIMON 72-), 23. Mile JEDINAK.

Substitute not used: 30. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk).

Yellow Cards: Danny VUKOVIC 63-, Pedj BOJIC 64-. Red Cards: nil. Goals: Dylan MACALLISTER 11-, Mile JEDINAK 90-P.

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Iain FYFE (c), 7. Rob MIDDLEBY, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE (31. Antony GOLEC 77-), 19. Mark BRIDGE, 23. John ALOISI, 28. Bobby PETTA (10. Steve CORICA 70-), 29. Beau BUSCH, 32. Brendan GAN.

Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 16. Christopher PAYNE.

Yellow Cards: Shannon COLE 90-+2, Iain FYFE 90-+3. Red Cards: nil. Goals: John Aloisi 64'P.

Referee: Peter Green. Crowd: 11,220.