Sydney FC 0 Central Coast Mariners 1

Sydney FC dominated the second half but could not cancel out former striker Sasho Petrovski's early goal that won the game for Central Coast Mariners.

Sydney FC dominated the second half but could not cancel out former striker Sasho Petrovski's early goal that won the game for Central Coast Mariners.

Ex-Sydney FC star Petrovski marked his return to Sydney Football Stadium with a goal inside the first seven minutes. Andre Gumprecht intercepted a Clint Bolton goal kick before setting up Petrovski, whose low shot flashed past his former club colleague.

The first half was a lively affair, with both teams creating a number of chances. Mark Milligan almost struck back for Sydney FC five minutes after Petrovski's opener. Surging forward from the halfway line, the Qantas Socceroos utility's long-range drive deflected over the crossbar. Central Coast Mariners then enjoyed a spell of possession with their best opportunity falling to Nick Mrdja but his shot cannoned back off the post.

As the first period drew to a close, Juninho and Steve Corica saw more of the ball and, as a result, Sydney FC looked more dangerous. Just before the interval their neat one-two played Corica into the box but Danny Vukovic snuffed out the danger. Shortly afterwards Juninho showed quick feet to round several defenders but Vukovic forced him wide.

Sydney FC coach Branko Culina made major tactical alterations for the second half, introducing Ruben Zadkovich for Adam Biddle and changing to a back three.

The Cove continued singing in the rain, trying to spur Sydney FC towards an equaliser. The home side came close with a number of Juninho set pieces, however, the first clear chance of the second period fell to Mrdja, whose shot forced Bolton to save with his legs.

Robbie Middleby replaced Iain Fyfe as Culina tried to add pace and width to Sydney FC's attack. Vukovic came to Central Coast Mariners' rescue yet again soon afterwards when a smart diagonal run by Zadkovich forced him to make another one-on-one save. Barely a minute later Vukovic was left stranded after clearing a ball played through for Alex Brosque. Sydney FC fans held their breath as Juninho's shot sailed over the crossbar.

Sydney FC came tantalisingly close to an equaliser three times in the last ten minutes. First, Mark Rudan saw his shot cleared off the line by Nigel Boogaard. Second, Juninho came within inches with a fizzing free kick. Third and finally, the 2002 FIFA World Cup winner found himself in space but his pass failed to find one of his teammates.

Sydney FC 0 Central Coast Mariners 1 (Sasho Petrovski 7') Date: Friday, August 24, 2007 Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney Referee: Peter Green Crowd: 18,457

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk) 2. Iain FYFE (7. Robbie MIDDLEBY 71') 4. Mark RUDAN, 6. Tony POPOVIC (captain), 10. Steve CORICA, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry McFLYNN (9. David ZDRILIC 84'), 16. Mark MILLIGAN, 21. Adam BIDDLE (8. Ruben ZADKOVICH 46'), 22. JUNINHO, 23. Ufuk TALAY.

Substitutes not used: 30. Matthew NASH (gk).

Yellow cards: Ufuk Talay 43'.

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 6. Andre GUMPRECHT (12. Greg OWENS 63'), 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Matthew OSMAN, 18. Alex WILKINSON (captain), 19. Adam KWASNIK (10. Tom PONDELJAK 71'), 22. Sasho PETROVSKI (2. Matthew SIMON 78'), 23. Mile JEDINAK.

Substitutes not used: 1. Matthew TROTT (gk).

Yellow cards: Dean Heffernan 41', Mile Jedinak 42', Sasho Petrovski 52', Andre Gumprecht 61'.