The Mariners were lacklustre against their rivals from down the freeway, going down rather easily aside from a late penalty saved by Vedran Janjetovic. Sydney may have scored both their goals from set pieces, but on the balance of play were clear winners and consistently put the Mariners defence under pressure while the Yellow and Navy struggling to produce any noteworthy chances.
Matthew Nash came in for the injured Liam Reddy and while he made a fine save from Milos Dimitrijevic in the second half, his failure to choose the correct option when playing out from the back allowed Sydney to win the corner that resulted in the game’s opening goal.
Combined with Jacob Poscoliero’s conceded penalty two weeks ago, this is two game-changing mistakes caused by rotation players, suggesting the depth of the squad may not be at the required level.
Strangely, Zac Anderson has featured on the bench in both of Poscoliero’s appearances this season, creating further questions about potential dressing room unrest following Kim Seung-yong’s behaviour after being substituted against Wellington.
At present there still isn’t enough dynamism in attack, with Duke and Mane struggling to make a sustained impression upon a match.
Although Duke did look impressive when moved to the main striker role following Mane’s swap with Nick Fitzgerald, the number nine still missed a couple of good opportunities, but could thrive if given a sustained run leading the line.
While Anthony Caceres and Glen Trifirio looked comfortable in the centre of the park, they struggled to link up with their teammates. There are still question marks over the ability of Matt Sim against A-League opposition, while fullbacks Roux and Rose struggled to launch effective runs into the Sydney half.
John Hutchinson was playing in between midfield and defence in a role similar to what Nick Montgomery played at the end of last season. It failed to work, giving Alex Brosque the time and space to run Sydney’s attacking play. Moss is still trying to find out what system works best for his players, something that should have been decided on in the long off-season.
The boys will be back in front of the home fans this week in another Sunday afternoon clash, welcoming the in-form Glory.
The team from WA have won three from four so far this season and are looking impressive in all areas of the park, in particular up front with Andy Keogh and Jamie MacLaren enjoying some fine form.
The defensive set-up is also very strong, with Michael Thwaite and Dino Djulbic looking solid ahead of Danny Vukovic in goals and assisted by a pair of good fullbacks in Josh Risdon and Scott Jamieson.
In front of a home crowd, the onus will be on the Mariners to take the game to their opponents, a starting midfield of Trifirio, Caceres, Fitzgerald and Hutchinson or Montgomery may help facilitate a positive start. The move would allow Duke and Mane to play as the two up frontmen and pressure the Glory defence high up the pitch.
Either Richard Vernes or Isaka Cernak should be allowed the chance to impress in the A-League, both men impressed in the win over Palm Beach in the FFA Cup.
Perhaps the most interesting statistic from the game will be crowd, the season-opening F3 derby drew a five-figure attendance, but the loss to the Phoenix was viewed by a paltry 7,237.
One of the Mariners home games against the Glory was scheduled as a marquee New Year’s Eve fixture, but won’t be this season due to FFA scheduling.