Central Coast Mariners have proved to be tough opposition for Sydney FC with the A-League champions failing to overcome the Mariners in both their fixtures so far this season.

The 1-1 stalemate between the two sides at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night demonstrated that the correct game plan can frustrate the league leaders and cause them to drop points on their own turf.

Heading into last night’s encounter Sydney had managed to collect five out of a possible nine points on offer from their last three fixtures. They drew 2-2 with second placed Newcastle Jets in their latest home match while they drew 0-0 with Adelaide United in their previous outing. Despite their recent run of form they still sit at the top of the A-League ladder and hold a seven-point lead over the Jets.

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However the respective game plans used by Central Coast and the Jets will have given Graham Arnold some cause for concern. Both sides have stung the Sky Blues with their lighting quick counter attacking play while getting numbers behind the ball defensively to stifle the league leaders’ ability to penetrate in the defensive third.

The game plan meant that the visitors forfeited the majority of possession as they defended the hosts and allowed them to keep the ball across the middle third as they went in search of a defensive gap.

The Sky Blues were only able to break clean through on one occasion when they equalised through Bobo with creative play-makers Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski left frustrated by the Mariners’ disciplined showing.

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Paul Okon’s side were also able to threaten at the other end of the pitch and had plenty of pace for potential counter attacks with Kwabena Appiah-Kubi leading the line however the 25-year-old lacked composure in the final third and let the A-League champions off the hook on multiple occasions with his poor decision making.

The Mariners could have stolen all three points with a traditional striker playing the number nine role while Lachlan Wales’ horror miss in the final stages of the first half could have proved the difference for the visitors who despite the encouraging display remain winless in their last eight matches.

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They look forward to vital back to back home matches against Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers while the Sky Blues will aim to extend the margin at the top of the table as they face off against a resurgent Melbourne Victory in the Big Blue on Australia Day.

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Studying Journalism at UTS. Obsessed with football and a die hard supporter of Sydney FC and Liverpool FC in the EPL