Central Coast Mariners, in front of a Friday night crowd of just under 8000, outplayed reigning champions
Sydney FC to achieve a 2-0 win, their first victory of the season.
Something finally gelled and the 2-0 win against Sydney FC was the result of a coherent team
performance, by far the best of the season to date, if not the best home performance for the past couple
Central Coast Mariners’ usually-reserved Head Coach, Mr Paul Okon, could not contain his delight at full
time, fist-punching the air and joining in a locker-room rendition of “Riding on the Horses”.
Sydney FC found themselves unbeaten at the top of the table as they went into round six, while Central
Coast Mariners still hadn’t managed a win and desperately needed to prove themselves in front of their
Sydney had won eight of the last nine matches between the two teams and hadn’t lost a game against
the Mariners since 2014.
They both went into the match as the two teams with the greatest number of passes in the league with
Sydney FC star Brilliante attempting more passes in opposition territory than any other player.
Ben Kennedy was given the opportunity to achieve his second clean sheet in a row in goals for the
Mariners with Tom Glover out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Jake McGing took Storm Roux’s position at right back while he was on international duty for New
Sydney started the first half with an attack as Alex Wilkinson missed a chance from a set piece for the
away side but the Mariners took possession in the second minute and started putting passes together.
The sublime passing and footwork skills of Hoole, Asdrubal, de Silva and Hiariej were on display but this
was the game when the combination play between individual performances clicked into place and the
Mariners were able to dominate.
Just before the 10th minute Connor Pain had a shot that was on target and forced Sydney’s keeper
Andrew Redmayne to make his first save.
The first, glorious home goal came in the 18th minute, via a stunning pass from de Silva down the left
wing to Asdrubal and then to Andrew Hoole who completed the job in style.
Coast-Sydney clashes have never been shy affairs and a 50-50 head clash sent Baro off the field
bloodied but returning shortly after with a bandaged head.
The Mariners kept their defensive composure in the face of Sydney attacks and corners but managed to
keep the pressure on the visitors for the remainder of the first half with several fine runs into the Sydney
Sydney FC’s stars, particularly Bobo, were shut down by Hiariej, to the delight of the Mariners’ fans.
The four extra minutes added by the referee did see the home side under pressure with several Sydney
corners and at least one shot needing to be cleared by Ben Kennedy to ensure the home side retained
their one goal lead at half time.
Kwanbena Appiah took the field for the second half, replacing Asdrubal, and the final 45 minutes
restarted with even more intensity than the first.
A hand ball by Baro gave Sydney a free kick within range but it bounced straight off the Mariner’s
Milos Ninkovic went down on the goal line and Ben Kennedy called for first aid support.
Brosque had an impressive and on-target shot at around the 50th minute but McGing’s defence was also
worth seeing and Sydney’s hopes of equalising were kept at bay.
At minute 56 the unexpected happened and Jake McGing’s header from a corner gave the Central Coast
Mariners a second goal against Sydney FC.
Home town boy, Mat Simon took the field for Sydney, replacing Carney at minute 62 but, try as he may,
Simon could not upset his former club.
Hoole and Pain continued to keep the visitors rattled and the referee certainly needed to put his yellow
card to use.
A run by Appiah at the 70th minute arguably should have resulted in a Mariners’ corner from a deflection
but Sydney was given a goal kick.
Graham Arnold decided to switch Sydney to a 4-4-2 formation, another sign the reigning champions
were not having a good night at the office.
At minute 75 Appiah had the perfect set up for the third Mariners’ goal but it rolled across the mouth of
In the last 15 minutes Sydney FC had multiple chances including a free kick and numerous corners but
the home side held on and the interplay between Golec and Baro in defence also seemed to cement
itself for the first time in the season.
Baro was given a second yellow card reducing the Mariners’ to 10 men for the final six minutes of
Ben Kennedy needed to work hard in the final minutes of the game to retain his clean sheet but did so
for the second time in as many games to ensure the Mariners’ went to full time two points to nil against
“I think we tried hard, we worked hard and the Mariners were red hot tonight, you’ve got to give them
credit,” said Sydney FC’s Head Coach, Mr Graham Arnold after the match, commenting on Sydney’s first
loss in 19 games.
“We expect to win every game that we go into and that didn’t happen tonight,” he said.
Mariners’ Head Coach, Mr Paul Okon, was caught on camera at full time in a moment of jubilation, then
filmed singing and dancing with his team in their dressing room.
He had regained his composure before meeting the press for his post-match interview.
“We were probably very close last time we were here against Victory so tonight it was important,” Mr
Okon said of the team’s first win for the year.
“It was more than just a performance tonight.
“I had a real strong feeling we were going to play our football.
“Tonight was about not letting anything slip.
“Every win is special and I haven’t had too many so it is a nice, big occasion for us as a club, it is our first
win, it is against the champions, it is our benchmark.”
Mr Okon said it was great to be momentarily in the top six for the first time in two years but his focus was
on the home crowd and winning more matches at home.
“We want to win more games at home and we have got a tough one on Thursday night.
“We only hope that after tonight there is more belief in us from our supporters.”
Mr Okon said he had sent a personal message to Tom Hiariej before the game to emphasise the player’s
importance to the side.
“I sent a message to Tom today telling him that if he was serious we needed him to be our best player.
“He promised me and he delivered.
“It is not a surprise, we knew his qualities but it is never easy when you come to a country as a foreign
player,” he said.
“I don’t think in any of our previous five games we have lacked intensity and it has always been our
intention to try to dominate the opposition.
“Adelaide is a strong team but we are at home and we are playing good football so we are going to make
sure we bring that mindset to the game,” he said.
The Mariners’ meet Adelaide United at Central Coast Stadium on Thursday, November 16 at 7:50pm.
Match notes, Nov 10
Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Press conference notes, Nov 10
Paul Okon, Central Coast Mariners
Graham Arnold, Sydney FC
Jackie Pearson, journalist