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Sydney FC thrash Central Coast Mariners to record best start to A-League season

Sydney FC’s first home game of the season began with a desperate plea for fans to attend by screening a family movie inside the stadium before kick-off against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday afternoon.
Nanjing Night Net

What followed was a flawless demolition of yet another rival and if the Sky Blues continue scoring at will until season’s end, it might be family films using the club’s image to boost their box office.

Sydney recorded their best start to an A-League season, after two rounds, when they clinched a second successive 4-0 rout over a rival. It could have been much more and that only 15,000 witnessed a performance as ruthless as this suggested the best form of marketing in football might not be cute ploys, but consistent, entertaining football.

Following a poor year last season, the Sky Blues are starting to string that required style of play together after notching up another lopsided scoreline. It was led by an attacking trio worthy of bringing bums on seats as Serbian midfielder Milos Ninkovic played the architect’s role with two incisive assists, while marquees Bobo and Filip Holosko rekindled their days together at Turkish giant Besiktas, combining for three goals collectively.

“The difference is for him … he [Ninkovic] has got players around him making the right runs,” Graham Arnold said. “The ball that [Ninkovic] gave Filip for the first goal was world class but he can’t play that ball unless Filip makes that run and the same with Bobo. He’s in great form.”

The difference between the two teams early appeared to be based on recruitment rather than coaching, as the pedigree and class of Sydney tipped the scales in their favour by half-time. By the final whistle, however, it became clear that for all the improvements in the Mariners this season, the Sky Blues are more than a pace ahead.

The first moment of their brilliant display began with Ninkovic. A defence-splitting through ball pulled the Mariners’ backline wide open, providing space for Holosko to pounce. The Slovak international was in red-hot form after his stellar performance in the derby last week and looked every bit the man riding a wave of confidence, calmly slotting the ball past his former teammate Ivan Necevski to open the scoring.

A minor setback on the half-hour mark couldn’t halt Sydney’s progression after Alex Wilkinson was forced off with an injury sustained from a dangerous challenge by Mariners forward Connor Pain.

Desperate defending from Central Coast kept them in the contest until another inch-perfect through ball from Ninkovic unlocked the Mariners defence. Amid more heavy pressure, Bobo staved off his marker for the third time inside the box to finally get his reward. Jacob Poscoliero lost the physical battle with the Brazilian, deflecting the ball further into his path to give Sydney’s marquee the simplest of finishes. Only a hurried finish from Holosko in front of an open net stopped the Sky Blues from claiming a 3-0 lead by half-time.

Luck was against the Mariners, who were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty for an accidental handball in the box. The referee showed them no love and neither did their former stalwart as Danny Vukovic showed reflexes don’t necessarily dwindle with age, producing a fine save in the corner to deny Roy O’Donovan from close distance.

When the nail was finally struck through the door of their coffin, they only had themselves to blame. A careless and clumsy foul by Jake McGing on Bobo inside the box gifted Holosko a chance to seal the result from the spot. He had no hesitation in making it 3-0 just after the hour mark, slotting for this third goal of the season.

If McGing was clumsy and careless, his goalkeeper was calamitous in gifting Sydney a fourth. A horrendous first touch by Necevski when receiving a throw-in gave his former captain, Alex Brosque, an open net to shoot into.

“Schoolboy errors against any opposition let alone a team that’s in form playing at home in their first game of the season, you’re going to concede goals,” Mariners coach Paul Okon said.

Whatever tactical discipline the Mariners began the match with had eroded as the Sky Blues ran riot in search of a fifth. It never came, but it kept fans standing all the way until the final ovation that their long-suffering members hope is their new standard.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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