Sydney FC missed out on a golden opportunity to topple the league leading Central Coast Mariners, who were spared their blushes thanks to a late goal to salvage a 1-1 draw.
It was a typical derby to start the match, a tight affair with both sides working hard to gain the upperhand, the first chance not coming until the 22nd minute.
Sydney FC worked well to get the ball up the field allowing Nick Carle a chance to get a shot away which was well saved by Matt Ryan.
The Mariners then piled on the pressure with three good efforts in three minutes, the first falling to Tomas Rogic in the 27th minute as he saw his curling strike well saved.
Ivan Necevski was at it again, denying Adam Kwasnik’s close range header from the corner before Rogic fired just wide after a good run.
The Mariners kept pushing and in the 36th minute perhaps should have taken the lead, but again were wasteful as Michael McGlinchey put his strike over the bar.
In the 37th minute though a big mistake allowed Sydney FC through as the Mariners gave up possession allowing Brett Emerton through only for Alex Wilkinson to come through with an incredible sliding challenge to get rid of the threat, keeping the match scoreless at half-time.
Sydney FC came out determined in the second half and could have taken the lead in the 47th minute as Joel Chianese had Ryan beaten but was denied by the crossbar.
Chianese was proving dangerous and again five minutes later the Mariners were torn apart only for Chianese to shoot straight at Ryan.
In the 56th minute Chianese finally got his reward as Ryan saved Carle’s strike only to see Chianese poke home the rebound, just about staying onside.
The goal woke up the Mariners who had a golden opportunity to equalize almost immediately as Bernie Ibini-Isei gathered a long ball and rounded the keeper only to miss the target with the goal at his mercy.
In the 69th minute the Mariners blew another chance as Ibini-Isei sent in a perfect cross for Ollie Bozanic only for Bozanic to head it over the bar.
In the 78th minute the Mariners were again denied, this time it was a wonderful strike from John Hutchinson that had Necevski beaten only to be denied by the crossbar.
The Mariners finally broke through in stoppage time as Troy Hearfield was left unmarked, allowing him score at the back post.
The result keeps the Central Coast Mariners three points clear at the top of the table, missing a golden opportunity to extend their lead and will need to improve their finishing quickly ahead of a Champions League match on Wednesday.
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