Late burst gives Sydney FC vital win over Central Coast Mariners

Four days after being thrashed by Yokohama F.Marinos, Sydney FC found their Central Coast soundalikes a far less intimidating opponent to bounce back with a 3-0 A-League win in Gosford.

Sydney barely had their noses in front but finished by a full length after late goals from youngsters Marco Tilio and Harry Van der Saag, following an early strike from Milos Ninkovic, inflicted a sixth straight defeat upon the cellar-dwellers. It gave Sydney FC three valuable points from a heated clash which included a bust-up in the tunnel between coaches from both clubs which required the intervention of security.

Marco Tilio celebrates the late goal that put Sydney 2-0 up over the Mariners.Credit:AAP

Sydney head into Friday's derby against the Wanderers with confidence restored after Sunday's win which came at the cost of one of their most consistent performers, Paulo Retre. The midfielder will miss the grudge match after picking up his fifth yellow card.

A blow that may be but it's a blemish Sydney coach Steve Corica would be happy to wear with the Sky Blues desperately needing to issue a response after their midweek thrashing in Japan.

"We wanted to come back and make sure we win this game," Corica said. "To get the three points is vital for us and we are very pleased."

Eight minutes in, Ninkovic began doing just that. Playing his first game in 23 days, the Serbian showed no signs of rustiness after pouncing on a loose ball inside the box to finish instinctively from close range.

The Mariners worked tirelessly to bring themselves back into the contest and turn momentum in their favour. On the stroke of half-time, they laboriously drew themselves back into the contest. Or so they thought. Gianni Stensness headed past Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to draw level only for the assistant to flag for offside. Replays showed Stensness timed his run perfectly but his teammate, Kim Eun-Sun, stood in an offside position and blocked the run of a Sydney defender to give away a foul and a vital goal.

The Mariners were incensed, in particular their coach Alen Stajcic who unleashed a heated spray at officials before sprinting down the tunnel, yelling profanities at a Sydney FC fitness coach who was said to have complained about an earlier tackle. According to Sydney FC sources, a melee broke out in the tunnel between the staff with cameras capturing security and police rushing to keep the peace. Stajcic dismissed the incident when asked after the match. "It was nothing," he said.

On the pitch, Sydney's control slipped further as they struggled for any fluency to play through the Mariners. By contrast, Central Coast looked the more dangerous side and played with the ferocity that matched their coach's earlier fury. But while crunching tackles drew plaudits, the Mariners lacked the quality to land anything more than bruises upon the Sky Blues.

Instead, it was Tilio who inflicted the damage at the death. The youngster made his A-League debut one to remember, coming off the bench to seal three points with a composed finish from inside the box. In injury time, Van der Saag scored his first goal for Sydney FC with a superb solo effort, beating two defenders before hitting the corner of the net.

"We were very pleased for the young boys that came on and scored the goal. You can see they have a very unique bond between them," Corica said.

"You have got to believe in the young boys and give them the opportunity. They are starting to get the opportunity now, they are the depth in our squad and they are putting pressure on the older boys now."

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