Sydney settles for point in six goal thriller

Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners have written another stunning chapter in their fierce rivalry, playing out pulsating 3-3 draw that will go down as one of the most entertaining matches of the Hyundai A-League season.

Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners have written another stunning chapter in their fierce rivalry, playing out pulsating 3-3 draw that will go down as one of the most entertaining matches of the Hyundai A-League season.

The Sky Blues produced three goals from the top drawer to go up 3-0 within the hour, with Mark Bridge, Adam Casey and Terry McFlynn sending the crowd into raptures with three sublime strikes, but the Central Coast looked hungry and lively from the get-go and Matt Simon-s 81st minute winner tied the ledger in a breathless six-goal thriller.

It was a game filled with highlights for the A-League-s show reel, and while the crowd left with their money-s worth, coach John Kosmina rued his side-s surrender.

“It-s two points dropped,” he bemoaned. “We have to learn to kill teams off and tighten things up. Even at 3-1 I didn-t think we could give it away.”

The first half had a great tempo and pace to it with both sides showing attacking intent. There was no room for marquee man John Aloisi once again, but Bridge, Casey and Alex Brosque justified the faith shown in them by Kosmina with exciting contributions.

The Central Coast were sharpest to start, with a dynamic front-three supported by Adrian Caceres out wide looking motivated and dangerous. The Mariners came looking to unsettle Sydney-s inexperienced back-four, and signaled their intent as they enjoyed a number of half chances in the first ten minutes, where Dylan McAllister proved a handful in the air.

Steve Corica and Stuart Musialik shot high and wide respectively as Sydney tried to arrest the flow the of the match from the visitors, but the dangerous Caceres switched to the right flank and carved out the match-s first genuine chance soon after.

His floating cross found Petrovski at the back post, but keeper Ivan Necevski-s imposing frame got in the way as he swatted the ball away with his knee.

The Sydney custodian was making his first start at the SFS, and despite conceding three times, played arguably the game of his career. He was a presence at the back, and looked confident, commanding and made a string of timely interventions as he revels in his first run of matches in the Sydney first team with Clint Bolton out injured.

Twenty-eight minutes in and Danny Vukovic fell victim to another moment of vintage Bridge. The Sydney striker showed why John Kosmina has chosen him to lead the line as he rekindled memories of his grand final strike at the same venue, against the same keeper for Newcastle earlier this year.

The Olyroo peeled out to the left flank where he took on Brad Porter, before cutting inside and launching a stunning, curling strike that cleared the cob webs out of the very top corner of net.

After rousing a standing ovation from the crowd, the gallery lapsed into silence minutes later when Pedj Bojic and Beau Busch suffered a sickening head clash. Both players looked out for all money, but with few defensive options on the bench they bravely returned to action before being stitched up at the break.

With five minutes left in the half, Alex Brosque punctuated his return from injury with a nice run and pass to Adam Casey, and the winger had too much speed for Bojic, turning inside before curling the ball around a helpless Vukovic with a fine finish from the edge of the area - a great way to mark re-signing for two years during the week.

The Central Coast must have been scratching their heads when they looked up at the score board after their positive contribution to the encounter.

Paul O-Grady came close to pegging it back, sending a header inches wide in stoppage time, before the Sky Blues could-ve gone further ahead, but Vukovic out-foxed Brosque one-on-one before smartly gloving McFlynn-s ensuring drive off the rebound.

The Mariners started the second half in the same positive vein with which they started the match, with the home side riding its luck to see off a string of close chances.

Necevski-s reflexes kept Macallister-s short-ranged snap out, Golec deflected Caceres- drive wide, before McFlynn headed the ball off the line all within a two minute period.

The Sky Blues then moved swiftly up-field on the counter, where Corica found McFlynn before classy interplay laid on one of the goals of the campaign. Musialik played the ball to Brosque-s feet, before he teed the ball up for McFlynn, the Irish import showed he can do the glamorous alongside the gritty, sending an unstoppable drive into the back of the net from distance.

If that dynamic interplay hadn-t sealed the win, then Stu Musialik should-ve put it beyond doubt just two minutes later. Vukovic made a great one-on-one stop, but the midfielder rattled the rebound onto the cross bar with the goal at his mercy.

The easiest finish of the night proved the most elusive, and proved to be the turning point of the contest.

Sydney-s inexperienced rear-guard was finally caught out after 63 minutes in what Kosmina described as “naive” defending. Matt Simon coasted through the heart of the Sky Blues- defence, dragged Necevski off his line before slotting it past the ‘keeper for a goal the Mariners deserved on the balance of play.

The end-to-end action was riveting for the 18, 251 strong audience. Sydney sprayed the ball across the park with quick movement all night, while the Central Coast-s direct style began to pay dividends as they chased the game.

Caceres linked with Brad Porter bombing down the right flank and the wide-man played a smart, composed ball across the face for Nick Mrdja to turn the ball in to leave the match delicately poised at 3-2.

The Mariners were pouring forward in numbers and McFlynn showed his worth to the side as his desperate lunge in the box prevented Caceres getting a clear sight of the goal with ten on the clock.

But the ensuing corner brought further drama when Simon, who recovered from what looked like a nasty knee injury, bobbed up at the back post to poke the ball home for the winner - with Necevski claiming he had been felled before the ball came in.

The home side had enough chances to put the Mariners at bay, but the Mariners have proved they-re a side never beaten, completing their second 3-0 comebacks of the season.

Sydney FC has little time to dwell on the result and will be out to make amends when they host the Wellington Phoenix at the SFS on Friday.

Match Detail

Sydney FC 3 (Mark Bride 28-, Adam Casey 39-, Terry McFlynn 56-) Central Coast Mariners 3 (Matt Simon 63-/81-, Nick Mrdja69-)

Sydney FC: 20. Ivan Necevsj(gk), 5. Mitchell Prentice, 8. Stuart Musialik, 10. Steve Corica (c), 12. Shannon Cole, 14. Alex Brosque (23. John Aloisi 67-), 15. Terry McFlynn, 18.Adam Casey (21. Adam Biddle 74-),19. Mark Bridge (28. Bobby Petta 81-), 29. Beau Busch, 31. Anthony Golec.

Substitute not used: 30. John Filan (gk).

Yellow Cards: nil. Red Cards: nil. Goals: Bridge 28-, Casey 39-, McFlynn 56-.

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 10. Adrian CACERES (17. Matthew Osman 89-), 11. Dylan Macallister, 13. Paul O-Grady (6. David D-Apuzzo 46-),18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Sasho PETROVSKI (9. Nick Mrdja 69-), 32. Mile Jedinak.

Substitute not used: 1. Matthew Nash (gk).

Yellow Cards: Mile Jedinak 18-, Sasho Petrovski 35-, John Hutchinson 90+2-. Red Cards: nil. Goals: Simon 63-/81-, Mrdja 77-.

Referee: Stebre Delovski. Crowd: 18,251.