Simon has the last say, at Gosford
By Corinthian (Paul Green):
Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 4
5:15pm, Saturday 31st October 2015 – Central Coast Football Stadium, Gosford
Central Coast Mariners FC 1 (Roy O’Donovan 37′)
Sydney FC 3 (Shane Smeltz 35′, Matt Simon 81′, 88′)
Sydney FC shot to the top of the Hyundai A League ladder after posting a late 3-1 win over their once most local rivals, Central Coast Mariners, at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening.
This was another excellent game for Gosford devotees, but the result didn’t go the way of the home side as most of those gathered by the bay had hoped.
The Mariners looked the part, but they were up against a side on top of their game and entitled to their pre-match billing as favourites.
It was the Sky Blues from the big smoke who broke the deadlock after a spirited opening half hour or so.
A lovely back-heel from star import, Filip Holosko, allowed Sydney FC skipper, Alex Brosque, to lay on a pass in the 35th minute that was put away perfectly, with a first-time volley by ace marksman, Shane Smeltz, from all of eight yards.
A little drop in concentration by the Mariners, accompanied by a brilliantly innovative piece of play by Slovakian, Holosko, led to the ice being broken.
But Central Coast broke back almost immediately with Irishman Roy O’Donovan finding the target in the 37th, having spurned an even better chance earlier in the half.
All the good work was done by Fabio Ferreira, down the right, with the precision pass giving the club’s main striker this season a relatively simple chance to convert.
That scoreline reflected the pattern of the game, which had ebbed and flowed constantly, but this game certainly had its talking points.
The main bone of contention later, as far as supporters were concerned, was the clash between Sydney FC keeper, Vedran Janjetovic, and Mariners’ striker O’Donovan in the 38th minute. To most in the stadium the keeper took the Irishman out and yet no penalty was awarded and of course no ensuing red card was issued.
After the match the incident and others in the game led to coaches using the term ‘chaotic’ to describe some aspects of the match and were quick to add that it was not like that by dint of anything untoward by either set of players.
With no penalty awarded and the keeper staying on, it was even more noteworthy when a Central Coast man received his marching orders not much later on.
Supporting striker, the all action Nick Fitzgerald, was dismissed four minutes before the break, after receiving two rapid-fire cautions from rookie referee, Adam Fielding.
Fitzgerald had brought down Sydney midfield star, Milos Dimitrijevic, in unceremonious fashion earning his second caution, but the first, minutes earlier, for simulation, may have been a little less deserved and left the Mariners with a lot of work to do against a quality opponent.
They did well to hold them until the 88th minute, but with fresh legs coming on, and what fresh legs they were, in former Central Coast regular, Matt Simon, and ex Newcastle Jets’ recruit, Andrew Hoole, Sydney FC began to gain the upper hand.
Both were full of running and Simon as always was into the action in his usual style, chasing everything and making himself available in sound attacking positions.
The pair came on in the 58th and that half hour was enough, for Simon in particular, to work his magic against his old club.
Two huge runs down the right flank led to Sydney scoring twice in the last ten minutes.
They’ve been making a habit of winning late in their games and this one was no exception.
Working their socks off to hold onto the 1-1 draw and try and pinch a goal as well, the Mariners eventually ran out of legs and Sydney FC exploited that with their speed and hard running.
In the 88th Holosko made a long searching run through from half way, down the right channel, before cutting the ball back with a nice cross that sat up perfectly for Matt Simon to volley home from the left of the area, 12 yards out, finding the top right corner of the net in front of the palm trees and the trademark sauce bottles.
It was as well-taken a goal as Simon had ever scored at the ground and begrudgingly home fans could only applaud politely at its sound execution.
Simon wasn’t finished, however, proving that Sydney FC coach, Graham Arnold, in signing him as a supplementary striker, in support of Smeltz and the injured Milos Ninkovic, was spot on in his assessment that the Central Coast discard could do a big job for the team.
In the 88th the two Frenchmen, defender Jacques Faty and substitute midfielder, Mickael Tavares, on at half-time for Dimitrijevic, combined again on the right.
Tavares, usually seen operating more centrally, surged forward along a similar trajectory to the one embraced by Holosko seven minutes earlier, sending over another good cross that Simon met with a wonderful bullet-like header to score in similar fashion to his first offering.
No doubt the honours went to the visitors here, though the Mariners and their fans won’t lose heart after this one, as it was a close game and the actions of the referee and perhaps just as much the inactions, had as much to do with the final outcome as any lack of ideas or ability.
Central Coast Mariners FC: 1. Paul IZZO (gk); 2 Storm ROUX,4 Jacob POSCOLIERO (21 Michael NEILL 66), 22 Jake McGING, 3 Joshua ROSE; 8 Nick MONTGOMERY (C); 11 Nick FITZGERALD, 16 Liam ROSE (6 Mitch AUSTIN 45), 10 Adrian CACERES (20 Anthony KALIK 76), 26 Fabio FERREIRA; 9 Roy O’DONOVAN
Subs Not Used: 30 Adam PEARCE (rgk), 14. Daniel HEFFERNAN
Yellow Cards: Nick Fitzgerald 39′, 41′, Poscoliero 45+2’, Michael Neill 68′
Red Cards: Nick Fitzgerald 41
Coach: Tony Walmsley
Sydney FC: 1. Vedran JANJETOVIC; 2. Seb RYALL, 19. Jacques FATY, 5. Matt JURMAN, 23. Rhyan GRANT; 8. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC (27. Mickael TAVARES 46), 13. Brandon O’NEILL (18. Matt SIMON 58), 11 Chris NAUMOFF (7. Andrew HOOLE 58); 14. Alex BROSQUE, 21. Filip HOLOSKO; 9. Shane SMELTZ
Subs not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI, 3. Alex GERSBACH.
Yellow cards: Brandon O’Neill 21′, Holosko 25’, Rhyan Grant 60′
Red cards: Nil
Coach: Graham Arnold
Points and ratings
Referee: Adam Fielding 5/10
Assistants: Ryan Gallagher and James Tesoriero; Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones
3. Filip Holosko (SFC)
2. Fabio Ferreira (CCM)
1. Alex Brosque (SFC)
By Corinthian (Paul Green)
Photo – Lowenna Rappo