Mariners still afloat af­ter early thrash­ing

NT News - - SPORT - TOM SMITHIES

IT was a crush­ing way to be­gin the sea­son, a 5-1 loss to the near­est ri­vals at home.

But Mariners boss Paul Okon says he has not had to make any emer­gency re­pairs to morale ahead of to­day’s trip to Western Syd­ney, just “a few lit­tle things to im­prove on” to kick­start their sea­son.

Okon was left frus­trated by his team’s de­fen­sive lapses against New­cas­tle last week­end, but in­sisted his team would quickly cor­rect those “mo­ments that let us down” against a Wan­der­ers side that was hugely im­pres­sive in its own first out­ing.

He will also re­mind his team of their suc­cesses at Spot­less Sta­dium last sea­son, tak­ing four points from two trips to Western Syd­ney, in the be­lief they can show the loss to the Jets was an aber­ra­tion.

“I don’t ac­tu­ally think we played that badly last week, we dom­i­nated the game and did a lot of good things with the ball,” Okon said. “We let our­selves down in cer­tain key mo­ments. They cost us the game.

“There were ar­eas we worked on in pre­sea­son and we were very happy with them. De­fen­sively we were re­ally good in pre­sea­son. We hardly con­ceded a goal, so to ship five goals was very dis­ap­point­ing, es­pe­cially in a derby.

“We’ve an­a­lysed where we went wrong, ev­ery­one un­der­stands where we weren’t good enough. But if the over­all per­for­mance had been poor that would have made it dif­fi­cult to main­tain con­fi­dence. We have a few lit­tle things to im­prove on, a few ad­just­ments, and you will see a dif­fer­ence.”

The Wan­der­ers beat Perth 2-1 last Sun­day but could have scored more in a com­mand­ing per­for­mance that Okon said bore the hall­marks of re­cently de­parted coach Tony Popovic.

“Their DNA is ex­tremely good – Tony Popovic only just left so not much has changed,” he said. “But the A-League is a funny com­pe­ti­tion, if you don’t bring it all to­gether on the day any team can beat an­other.” ADE­LAIDE United last night stunned Bris­bane Roar with two goals at the death to seal a 2-1 come-from-be­hind ALeague vic­tory.

The Roar looked des­tined to win af­ter Mas­simo Mac­carone opened his ac­count just eight min­utes into his home de­but, be­fore John Aloisi’s side seem­ingly weath­ered the worst of a sec­ond-half storm from the vis­i­tors.

But the Reds kept on com­ing and even­tu­ally broke through, with sub­sti­tute Ryan Kitto equal­is­ing in the 88th minute, then Jo­han Ab­sa­lon­sen scor­ing the win­ner in ex­tra time.

Usu­ally it’s Bris­bane pro­duc­ing the late hero­ics at Sun­corp Sta­dium but in­stead the ta­bles were turned and the Reds have now opened the new sea­son with two con­sec­u­tive wins.

It was a de­served re­sult af­ter Ade­laide wres­tled back con­trol of a match that ebbed and flowed with both teams en­joy­ing pe­ri­ods of dom­i­nance.

Ital­ian veteran Mac­carone got the ball rolling, smash­ing in his first A-League goal at the back post af­ter he was set up by a Corey Brown cross, much to the de­light of the 11,178-strong crowd.

The Roar had an ar­ray of chances to make it 2-0 but goal­keeper Paul Izzo made six im­por­tant saves — snuff­ing out a dan­ger­ous Peter Skapetis break, an­other Mac­carone ef­fort and a rasp­ing shot from sub­sti­tute Brett Hol­man.

The 22-year-old made a huge blooper in the 48th minute when he coughed up pos­ses­sion near the six-yard box and was cor­nered by Mac­carone and Nick D’Agostino, but made up for it by block­ing back-to-back ef­forts from the lat­ter to keep Ade­laide in the game.

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