Central Coast Mariners drove an hour down the road and took all three points from Sydney FC on Saturday night. Mile Sterjovski scored a second half goal at the Allianz Stadium for the Mariners, who went back to Gosford in third place. The Sky Blues' winless streak now stands at five with only one point added to the ladder since December 15.
While Sterjovski's shot, which deflected off of Matt Jurman and past newly re-signed Vedran Janjetovic, carried the storyline of the game, there were debuts for each side that could have longer-term ramifications. Bernie Ibini finally made his Mariners return after leaving the A-League for China in the offseason. He replaced Sterjovski ten minutes after the goal. For Sydney it was Milos Dimitrijevic who appeared for the first time in Sky Blue, coming on for Nick Carle in the 66th minute. The Serbian is under contract for the rest of the season and seventh place Sydney will need all the help it can get in getting back to the finals after missing out last season.
In the end, the Mariners were just too good for a struggling Sydney side. Frank Farina, after saving his job in November, is back on the hot seat and could easily be let go if his team do not recover and reach the finals. Meanwhile, the Mariners are figuring out ways to pick up points despite losing Graham Arnold and Michael McGlinchey over the past two months.
Up next for Sydney is a big game at the Etihad Stadium against Melbourne Victory on Sunday January 26. Central Coast will have the chance to move into second place when they host Newcastle Jets at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday January 25.
CCM Sterjovski 58'
Sydney FC: Janjetovic; Warren (Chianese 65'), Petkovic, Jurman, Bojic; McFlynn, Carle (Dimitrijevic 66'); Abbas, Del Piero, Gameiro; Despotovic
Unused substitutes: Necevski, Thompson, Ryall
Central Coast Mariners: Reddy; Rose, Anderson, Sainsbury, Roux; Fitzgerald (Duke 75'), Caceras, Montgomery, Sterjovski (Ibini 69'); McBreen, Simon
Unused substitutes: Pasfield, Seip, Hutchinson