With the Sydney derby less than a week away, Sydney FC coach Frank Farina admits there’s no time to lament the points that got away against Central Coast on Saturday.
Nanjing Night Net

The Sky Blues had a prime opportunity to win their third game in a row but were instead undone with a second-half winner from Mariners striker Mitchell Duke.

Sydney had battled back to level the game at 1-1 when Richard Garcia finished smartly but would go home empty-handed despite creating plenty of chances, many of which were denied by former Sydney goalkeeper Liam Reddy.

While a win would have shot them into third, they are now sixth, barely two points clear of Wellington Phoenix with a rampaging Melbourne Heart another two points back.

But Farina says they can’t afford to dwell on what might have been, and must quickly refocus on what looms as the biggest game of their season.

“It’s disappointing but we can’t do anything about it now. We’ve go two massive couple of games coming up, and next week is the derby against Western Sydney at what is likely to be a sold-out Allianz Stadium,” he said. “It’s that business end of the season, and there’s going to be a lot more twists and turns, but we’ve got to keep fighting and hope to keep getting points.

“Every game is a huge one, not only for us but for all teams in the competition, apart from Brisbane, who are most probably sitting reasonably comfortably in their position.”

After winning the first Sydney derby at Parramatta Stadium last season, the Sky Blues have picked up just one point in their past four outings against the league’s newest club.

However, Farina believes this team has gone through enough this season to manufacture the desired result on home soil.

“Mentally, we’ve got a strong group. We wouldn’t have dug ourselves out of what was happening if we didn’t have a strong core of players in there who were experienced or could bring the rest along with them,” he said. “It’s a good atmosphere in the group, and they realise they, like everyone else, will have to work hard. There’s no magic formula for winning football games. It’s about one effort on the park and, obviously, playing well.”

Farina was hoping to grind the Mariners down on Saturday as the hosts appeared to be fatigued after playing midweek against FC Seoul in the Asian Champions League.

“In the first half, we wanted to keep possession and run them around, coming off the back of the week that they had but we didn’t do that well enough,” he said. “We kept saying: “Keep the ball, move it from side to side, make them run and make them tire in the second half But I think we turned over too much possession in the second half without any real pressure.”

While the switch to the 4-4-2 diamond has helped the side’s structure – and revitalised Alessandro Del Piero – it has opened up a question about who should partner the team’s best striker, Ranko Despotovic.

While Corey Gameiro has been holding the role of late, Farina changed the youngster at half-time and replaced him with the veteran Garcia, who scored a goal and looked lively.

“Corey wasn’t playing poorly but I just thought we needed to add something extra there,” Farina said. “Richie is very experienced in that role. He’s strong in the air as well but he’s still a little bit off 90 minutes. We weren’t holding enough possession on the ball, we were losing it, and he’s someone that can hold the ball up and give the midfield and defence time to get forward.”

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