Sydney FC 3 Central Coast Mariners 2

Alex Brosque’s brace fired Sydney FC to a debut win under John Kosmina and him to the top of the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 goal-scoring chart.

Alex Brosque’s brace fired Sydney FC to a debut win under John Kosmina and him to the top of the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 goal-scoring chart.

Brosque scored twice in ten first-half minutes to take his seasonal tally to six goals but missed a second-half penalty that would have given him a well earned hat-trick as Sydney FC produced its best performance of the season to beat Central Coast Mariners 3-2 at Sydney Football Stadium.

Sydney FC skipper Tony Popovic headed home his first goal since returning to Australia and, while Central Coast Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson scored two screamers, both from the edge of the box, his double was insufficient to stop Kosmina celebrating victory in his first match since succeeding Branko Culina.

Kosmina showed his attacking intent in his first game in charge, employing an offensive 3-4-3 formation with new striker Michael Bridges making his debut alongside Brosque and Steve Corica. Central Coast Mariners also handed a first start to John Aloisi.

The match started positively for Sydney FC. Inside the first 15 minutes, Brosque, Juninho and Ruben Zadkovich all stung the palms of Danny Vukovic and Corica had a goal disallowed for offside.

On 16 minutes Sydney FC got the goal that its play deserved. Juninho gathered the ball down the left and squeezed a pass between two Central Coast Mariners defenders, finding Corica’s charging run into the box. The veteran midfielder, who broke Central Coast Mariners hearts in the 2006 Hyundai A-League Grand Final, saw his effort bounce back off the far post into the path of Brosque, who calmly slotted it away.

Brosque was at it again ten minutes later as Sydney FC doubled its advantage. Popovic sliced open the Central Coast Mariners rearguard picking out Brosque’s run with a deft, firm pass through the heart of the defence. Once again, Vukovic could only watch as Brosque’s finish hit the back of the net.

Central Coast Mariners struck back inside 60 seconds and in the most spectacular fashion. Clint Bolton was helpless as Hutchinson picked up a Tom Pondeljak pass and, with his non-preferred right foot, rifled the ball home from 25 metres in front of the away fans.

The frenetic action of the first half did not end there. Michael Bridges brought variety and enthusiasm to Sydney FC’s attack and, on the half-hour mark, his committed chase of a long ball forced Central Coast Mariners to concede a corner from which Popovic got up above his marker to head home from close range.

The drama continued in the second half. On 54 minutes Sydney FC received a penalty, match referee Mark Shield ruling that Dean Heffernan had fouled Bridges inside the area. Regular spot-kick taker Ufuk Talay handed the ball to hat-trick seeker Brosque but his shot cannoned off the bottom of the left upright.

Central Coast Mariners made Sydney FC pay just two minutes later and set up a pulsating final half an hour. It was deja vu as for the 17,652-strong crowd as Hutchinson rocked the top corner of Bolton’s goal for the second occasion. This time, Andre Gumprecht cut in off the right flank and his ball was met by Hutchinson’s venomous left boot from outside the box.

Lawrie McKinna’s table-topping team threw everyone, including Vukovic, forward in search of a late, late equaliser but it was all to no avail and Sydney FC almost scored a fourth goal in the dying seconds but David Zdrilic’s 70-metre effort with Vukovic stranded in no man’s land was hacked away by Pondeljak.

Sydney FC 3 (Alex Brosque 16′, 25′, Tony Popovic 31′)
Central Coast Mariners 2 (John Hutchinson 27′, 56′)
Date: Sunday, October 28, 2007
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Mark Shield
Crowd: 17,652

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Iain FYFE, 6. Tony POPOVIC (captain), 7. Robbie MIDDLEBY (3. Nikolas TSATTALIOS 71′), 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH (11. Brendon SANTALAB 81′), 10. Steve CORICA, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 16. Mark MILLIGAN, 22. JUNINHO, 23. Ufuk TALAY, 28. Michael BRIDGES (9. David ZDRILIC 83′).

Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk).

Yellow cards: Ufuk Talay 86′, Clint Bolton 87′.

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 6. Andre GUMPRECHT (2. Matt SIMON 77′), 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 10. Tom PONDELJAK, 12. Greg OWENS, 13. Tony VIDMAR (captain), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 22. Sasho PETROVSKI, 23. Mile JEDINAK, 25. John ALOISI.

Substitutes not used: 1. Matthew TROTT (gk), 5. Bradley PORTER, 18. Alex WILKINSON.

Yellow cards: John Hutchinson 50, Mile Jedinak 53′, Dean Heffernan 54′, Tony Vidmar 64′.