A resilient Central Coast Mariners have suffered defeat at the hands of Blacktown City, going down 1-0 at Pluim Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Central Coast Mariners came into this match searching for their first win of the season, which also happened to be under their third manager in four matches. Former Sydney Olympic manager Abbas Saad took charge of his first game for the Mariners, with the Yellow and Navy starting strongly and edging the opening 15 minutes of the contest.

Mariners goalkeeper Patrick Beach was called into action a number of times in the first half, with a 22nd minute reflex save the pick of the bunch, denying Travis Major.

Daniel George looked dangerous down the left flank for the home side, creating two chances with low crosses, but failed to find a teammate in the penalty area.

The Mariners strong showing in the first half wasn’t rewarded, with a sloppy mistake gifting City the lead just before half time. Zac Zoricich was caught on the ball on the halfway line by Jak O’Brien. The City midfielder ran the length of the half before burying his shot into the bottom-left corner for his third of the 2023 NPL NSW Men’s season.

The second half began with a flurry of cards, with three yellow’s dished out in a five minute period, highlighting the intensity of the start to the half.

The frantic start resulted in neither team holding or dominating possession, with the game turning into a midfield battle.

It took until the 74th minute for a meaningful chance in the second half which fell to Marco Arambasic. Fellow substitute Gianni Di Pizio played a perfect ball over the top which found Arambasic, but the forward couldn’t control his header under pressure from City goalkeeper Tristan Prendergast.

That was the only meaningful chance of the half, with City earning their second win of the season and leaving Pluim Park 1-0 winners.

City manager Mark Crittenden was full of praise for his side post-match, saying he was expecting a tough contest.

“We were expecting a tough game today,” he said.

“They’re very strong athletically and they can play, and with a new manager in charge they were always going to go out and try to impress.

“I thought maybe we could have put a couple more away and make it a bit safer, but to come up here and take three points was a decent result for us.”

Crittenden believes the reason for their win today is due to their solid backline, indicating that if they continue to be solid defensively, another title could be on the cards for Blacktown City.

“I think our back third were solid,” he said.

“We’ve been conceding goals which isn’t something we like to do too often, so we worked on that and we minimised their opportunities on goal.

“I always say that the best defensive team usually wins the league, so if you don’t concede you only need one to win.”

New Mariners manager Abbas Saad was very pleased with his sides effort, believing they deserved something from the game.

“Fantastic performance from our boys,” he said.

“We competed and I thought we were the much better team in the first half, and they scored a goal on the back of our mistake.

“I’m disappointed with the score, but I’m not disappointed in the effort. We gave one of the best teams in the competition a game today. We deserved a point from the game, and I’m sure Critto (Mark Crittenden) would agree.

“It’s a learning curve for us and it’s all about game management. They’re an experienced team and it’s something we have to work on while trusting in our process.”

The Mariners saw multiple players go down with cramp throughout the game, something Saab says comes down to a lack of fitness.

“I thought we ran out of legs towards the end which was disappointing,” he said.

“I’ve only had one session with them which was yesterday, and I was blown away with the lack of fitness, especially for the boys at this age

“It’s something we need to work on because we need to be sharper.”

Match Stats

Central Coast Mariners Academy 0

Blacktown City 1 (O’Brien 44’)

Saturday 25th February, 2023

Pluim Park, Lisarow

Referee: Danny Horstead

Assistant Referees: Jasper White, Bayden McDonald

Fourth Official: Kyle Hockings

Central Coast Mariners: 30. Patrick Beach (GK), 2. Sasha Kuzevski, 3. Cameron Windust (c) (7. Gianni Di Pizio 66’), 4. Dean Larson, 6. James Bayliss, 8. Lachlan Bayliss, 10. Nicholas Duarte (9. Jakov Malbasa 88’), 15. Jordan Segreto (11. Bailey Brandtman 66’), 18. George Daniel (14. Marco Arambasic 46’), 21. Maksim Kasalovic, 22. Zac Zorocich (5. Joshua Hong 49’)

Substitutes Not Used: 1. Dylan Peraic-Cullen (GK)

Yellow Cards: Segreto 15’, Duarte 54’, Hong 88’

Red Cards: Nil

Blacktown City: Tristan Prendergast (GK), 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 7. Travis Major, 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow (c) (22. Carlos De Oliveira 81’), 12. Tyren Burnie, 18. Nicholas O’Brien (14. Caleb Jackson-Brown 65’), 19. Adam Berry, 21. Charles Mendy (17. Tatsuya Kato 75’)

Substitutes Not Used: 30. Jacob Fernandez (GK), 16. Ben Berry, 46. Abbas Karnib

Yellow Cards: O’Brien 56’, A. Berry 58’

Red Cards: Nil

Player Ratings

3 – Adam Berry (BCFC)

2 – James Bayliss (CCM)

1 – Sasha Kusevski (CCM)

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