Sydney FCĺ─˘s unbeaten run has continued at Central Coast Stadium tonight, with an emphatic second half display that has almost ensured their place in the Pre-Season Cup semi finals.
Goals from Steve Corica and Sasho Petrovski secured a hard fought victory, over a gallant Central Coast Mariners side that will rue a missed penalty by last weeks hat-trick hero Nick Mrdja in the first half.
While the match itself was by no means a classic, it did once again show that the new Hyundai A-League will be a high-standard competition, with both teams giving the 8,000 strong crowd a good exhibition of football.
The game itself came down to Sydney making the most of its few chances in the second half.
Sydney captain Steve Corica finished exquisitely, when he pounced on a terrible mistake by his opposite Noel Spencer on the edge of the box, to shoot across Mariners keeper John Crawley and inside the far post.
The match was wrapped up with eleven minutes remaining and the goal was simply down to the sublime skill of Dwight Yorke. He brilliantly turned two defenders that left them high and dry and he then in instant played Iain Fyfe in behind the defence on the left. Fyfe then drilled a low cross to the near post and Petrovski was on hand to clip the ball home for yet another goal.
The win lifts Sydney onto six points, with Central Coast and Queensland Roar on three points, after the Roar thrashed the New Zealand Knights 5-0 in Auckland earlier in the evening. The Roar must beat Sydney next weekend in Cairns, while the Mariners must win away in Auckland to also have any chance of qualifying for the semi finals.
The opening half was a game of cat and mouse as both sides looked for openings with patient and incisive passing, but the defences of both sides was proving tough to crack.
Both teams did however go close to an opening goal, with the woodwork denying the Mariners Wayne Oĺ─˘Sullivan and Sydneyĺ─˘s Sasho Petrovski, although it was Mrdjaĺ─˘s poor penalty that proved to be the most costly miss.
His weakly hit penalty in the 38th minute, would have given the Mariners what would have been a deserved first half time lead, but he allowed Sydney keeper Clint Bolton to atone for his earlier error in bringing down Stewart Petrie, as he went round him.
The game could so easily have started in sensational fashion for the home side when Oĺ─˘Sullivan struck the woodwork in the fourth minute. Mrdja squared a great ball across the top of the penalty area for Oĺ─˘Sullivan, with Irishmanĺ─˘s fiercely struck shot, crashing against the crossbar, with Bolton well beaten.
This lifted the Mariners confidence and they continually had Sydney on the back foot with some quick movement forward, although Sydneyĺ─˘s defence was holding firm.
Up the other end, Yorke and Petrovski struggled for good service and their first clear chance at goal did not come till the 20th minute, with Petrovskiĺ─˘s header easily held by John Crawley.
Five minutes later though, Petrovski almost had the opening goal when he was the beneficiary of deflected shot by David Carney. The ball fell nicely for him 10 yards out, he took a couple of touches, but his shot cannoned off the near post.
While the chances werenĺ─˘t coming thick and fast, when they did they were near misses and usually from terrific pieces of build-up play.
Pondeljak went close in the 36th minute with a header that just cleared the crossbar after great work by Oĺ─˘Sullivan down the right again.
Five minutes later it was Sydneyĺ─˘s turn, with Terry McFlynn and Yorke combining on the right. McFlynnĺ─˘s cutback from the by-line found Steve Corica, whose thumping volley brought out a terrific reaction save from John Crawley.
The second half was again tough, uncompromising football, with making the better of their opportunities when they arrived.
Mrdja twice went close in the dying stages, shooting wide when in a good position 12 yards out and striking the post once again with an audacious effort from wide out of the penalty area.