A wasteful Sydney FC have fallen to an unlikely 1-1 home draw against the lowly Central Coast Mariners.
In the first ever A-League match at Leichhardt Oval, Central Coast stunned the partisan home crowd when Aiden O’Neill side-footed home from a Mariners corner.
The next hour of play saw the Mariners firmly park the bus, leaving Matt Simon to sunbake on his own up top on a sunny Sydney day as the home side struggled to break down their resilient opponents.
Sydney were only able to break through after Brosque was fouled by Jem Karacan, setting the match up for a final sky blue onslaught for the remaining 10 minutes.
The Mariners rode their luck as Adam Le Fondre and Milos Ninkovic both spurned big chances, earning themselves a valuable point as they travel north back up the highway.
Andrew Redmayne - 7
Possibly could have saved the O’Neill goal after getting a glove on it. Aside from that, Redmayne was hardly called upon during the 90 minutes.
Rhyan Grant - 8
Had a brilliant first half but like Zullo was unable to provide any quality deliveries to the striking partnership of Le Fondre and Reza.
Alex Wilkinson - 7
Highly unnoticeable with the Mariners parking the bus for the majority of the match.
Ben Warland - 6
Not the most talented footballer in the league, but does his defensive duties well and is particularly good in aerial contests.
Michael Zullo - 6
Received a ton of the ball down the left flank but was unable to provide the killer ball to unlock the Mariners defense.
Adrian Caceres - 7
Fought hard all day to chase and win the ball back but found it tough going in an unfamiliar wide position.
Brandon O’Neill - 7
Typically clinical in his defensive duties but unable to provide enough creativity and impetus in attack.
Josh Brillante - 6
Made no major contributions and was often compelled to drop extremely deep whenever the Mariners picked up possession.
Milos Ninkovic - 9
As good as ever. Everything Sydney went through the skillful Serbian feet of Milos Ninkovic.
Reza Ghoochannejhad - 6
Still yet to really dominate a game after two attempts. Plenty more to come from the Iranian.
Adam Le Fondre - 7
Pretty uninvolved all afternoon and suffered from the lack of service provided by the Sydney midfield. Slotted his one opportunity from the penalty spot after Karacan fouled clumsily.
Alex Brosque - 6
Won the penalty that gave the sky blues the equalizer and spurned a difficult chance with just minutes remaining.
Luke Ivanovic - 6
Got right amongst it after being introduced in the second half but was unable to provide the key to unlock the Mariners defensive unit.
Aaron Calver - N/A
Replaced O’Neill with just a few minutes remaining. The defender was deployed as a big number nine.
Central Coast Mariners
Ben Kennedy - 7
Clearly error prone but also has the ability to stand up and make big saves when called upon. This was most evident in the 90th minute where Kennedy saved a huge chance that fell to Ninkovic.
Sam Graham - 8
Started slowly, possibly struggling in the intense Aussie heat. Grew into the game in the second half and proved his worth with some impressive one v one defensive tackles.
Jonathan Aspropotamitis - 8
A great young defender who seems to always find himself in the ideal defensive position.
Jack Clisby - 8
Had a good day defensively making multiple important interventions.
Connor Pain - 6
Not very involved with just 16 touches for the entire day. Dragged by Mike Mulvey at the 53rd minute.
Jem Karacan - 7
Had a good day but was unlucky to give away a soft penalty that let Sydney back in.
Tommy Oar - 7
Came off after 17 minutes with what looked a bad knee injury. However Oar was able to hobble off, indicating the injury may not be as bad as first thought.
Aiden O’Neill - 8
Fairly uninvolved until the ball trickled to him in the 36thminute, with the Burnley loanee showing great composure to hit the bottom right corner.
Steven Mallon - 7
Could go toe-to-toe with Rhyan Grant for A-League’s worst haircut. The The Mariners January recruit did well in a tough match.
Matt Simon - 7
Isolated for most of the match as the Mariners parked the bus. Chased and harried as only Matt Simon knows how, but not really a day for strikers. Made three big blocks in the final phase of the match as Sydney tried to steal it at the death.
Andrew Hoole - 7
Needs to work on his decision making but was highly involved in a match where Mariners were mostly without the ball. Replaced by Hiariej with 10 minutes remaining.
Matthew Millar - 7.5
Introduced early after Tommy Oar hyperextended his knee. Has an absolute engine on him, much needed on a summer afternoon like today’s.
Jacob Melling- 7
Did some good work in rare Mariners attacks and provided more defensive steel after replacing Connor Pain early in the second half.
Tom Hiariej- N/A
Brought on to shut up shop with 10 minutes remaining.