All the hype pre-game was about the return of Mark Bosnich to Australian football, and when push came to shove the former Socceroo keeper didn’t disappoint, inspiring the Central Coast Mariners to a comfortable win in Saturday’s Pre-Season Cup clash with Sydney FC.
All the hype pre-game was about the return of Mark Bosnich to Australian football, and when push came to shove the former Socceroo keeper didn-t disappoint, inspiring the Central Coast Mariners to a comfortable win in Saturday-s Pre-Season Cup clash with Sydney FC.
The 36-year-old played a prominent part in his new side-s three nil win at home, convincing most good judges he still has the ability to compete at the elite level.
“Bozza was the difference between the two sides, he was always going to have a good game today, loves a big stage,” said Sydney coach, John Kosmina. “He played exceptionally well, and you know you get keepers make saves like that they change games because I don-t think the Central Coast were three goals better than us, nowhere near it.”
Sydney started strongly at Bluetongue Stadium but couldn-t capitalise on an early glut of possession, and it was Central Coast that had the best chance of the opening exchanges when Ahmed Elrich found the ball on his left boot just six yards out.
His shot dribbled straight into the arms of Clint Bolton though, and in the 10th minute Alex Brosque put a raiding Robbie Middleby into space.
The defender also struggled to put any real power behind his shot however, and the Mariner-s debutant faced no pressure cleaning up the scraps between the sticks.
Brosque had Bosnich diving with a long-range blast three minutes later, but that effort flew across the face of goal.
Close to the half hour, the Central Coast keeper showed a glimpse of his Premier League past when Terry McFlynn sent in a screamer that had the former Socceroo springing back to his best.
FC continued its constant attack, but in the 43rd minute a raid against the run of play put the Mariners deep in Sydney-s end, and a classy Adrian Caceres back-heel opened the door for Bradley Porter to fire home the finish.
Down one nil, John Kosmina-s men came out searching for an equaliser after the break but would-ve slipped further behind five minutes after the restart, but for a brilliant double save from Clint Bolton.
The FC custodian blocked a close range blast from Elrich, before coming up with an even better effort to deny former Sydney striker, Sasho Petroski a second later.
The visitors should-ve been back on level terms on the 58 minute mark when Brosque had a golden opportunity blocked inside the box by Alex Wilkinson, then Bosnich was called back into action when Mitchell Prentice sent a swerving ball in from well outside eighteen.
The real damage was done at the other end of the field, however, when two minutes later Dylan McCallister set Petrovski on a path for goal, and the Mariner-s marksman made no mistake with the finish to put his side in control of the contest.
In the 67th minute Brosque almost created something from nothing, turning into space and beating Bosnich from the edge of the area, only to be denied by the support post.
And moments later the Mariners sealed what already looked like a certain victory when Nik Mrdja finished off from the spot after Iain Fyfe was ruled to have handled the ball in the box.
There was still plenty of drama left in the contest however.
Seconds after the kick-off Sydney earned a penalty of its own when Brosque was held back, and Bosnich brought the crowd to its feet with a stylish save against Steve Corica.
Corica had another opportunity from open play a short time later but the Central Coast keeper was again up to the challenge.
The text-book display of keeping continued five minutes from time when Bolton again pulled off another brilliant double save, but his side was already well beaten, the home side coasting to a comfortable three goal win.
Despite the defeat, John Kosmina remains confident his team is moving in the right direction.
“I was really happy with the way we played, I mean last week we weren-t that flash but we ground out a result, today, it didn-t work that way yet we created a lot more chances this week than we did last.”
Sydney is still in the running to claim the Pre-Season Cup and will be out to seal a spot in the final next Saturday when it hosts the Wellington Phoenix in Wollongong.
Sydney FC 1. Clint Bolton (gk), 2. Iain Fyfe, 3. Nikolas Tsattalios (Adam Casey 46-), 4. Simon Colosimo, 5. Mitchell Prentice, 7. Robbie Middleby (Adam Biddle 75-), 10. Steve Corica [c] (Chris Payne 75-), 14. Alex Brosque, 15. Terry McFlynn, 16. Chris Payne, 17. Jacob Timpano, 26. Dez Giraldi
Substitutes Not Used 20. Ivan Necevski [gk]
Unavailable 6. Tony Popovic (injury), 8. Stuart Musialik (Olyroos), 11.Brendon Santalab (injury), 19. Mark Bridge (Olyroos), 22. Mike Enfield (injury), 23. John Aloisi (injury)
Yellow Cards Steve Corica 49- Alex Brosque 63- Iain Fyfe 68- Simon Colosimo 74- Chris Payne 77- Dez Giraldi 90-
Red Cards nil
Central Coast Mariners 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 10. Adrian Caceres, 11. Dylan McCallister, 15. Andrew Clark, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 21. Ahmed Elrich (17. Matthew Osman 77-), 22. Sasho Petrovski (9. Nik Mrdja), 24. David D-Apuzzo, 26. Pedj Bojic, 40. Mark Bosnich [gk] (Danny Vukovic [gk] 81-)
Substitutes Not Used 2. Andre Gumprecht
Yellow Cards David D-Apuzzo 32-, Andrew Clark 34- Sasho Petrovski 56- Bradley Porter 70-
Red Cards nil
Goals Bradley Porter 43-, Sasho Petrovski 60- Nik Mrdja 69-
Referee Chris Beath