Sky Blues settle for draw with Mariners

A late Adam Le Fondre penalty has saved Sydney FC in a 1-1 home A-League draw with Central Coast.
A late Adam Le Fondre penalty has saved Sydney FC in a 1-1 home A-League draw with Central Coast.

Sydney FC are slowly fading away in the race for the premier's plate after being forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with last-placed Central Coast.

A clutch second-half penalty from Adam Le Fondre saved the Sky Blues after Aiden O'Neill's composed first-half strike looked to be the difference on Sunday.

The result leaves a stuttering Sydney FC in third spot, ten points behind ladder leaders Perth with just eight games remaining in the season.

A healthy crowd of 12,188 filled Leichhardt Oval for the first A-League fixture at the venue, but they were left wanting plenty from their temporary tenants.

The numbers showed it was a one-way show.

The Sky Blues enjoyed 62 per cent possession, 63 per cent territory, quadrupled the Mariners' five shots on goal, and played 51 balls in the box compared to 14.

But in the end they were forced to settle for a share of the points, which comes a week after collapsing against lowly Brisbane.

Mariners coach Mike Mulvey made four changes to his side in another desperate attempt to salvage some pride from their season.

And the early signs weren't positive, with Brandon O'Neill and Milos Ninkovic both having sights on goal, including one that clattered the woodwork.

However the visitors were rewarded for their resolve when O'Neill speared home from outside the box just before halftime.

Sydney FC would've felt confident of getting back into the game, having twice fought back from behind already against the Mariners this season.

And all indications pointed to a comeback in the second, when they continued to dominate possession only to let themselves down with poor crossing.

Le Fondre was given a gift in the middle of the box but sprayed his shot wide.

An opportunity to storm home presented itself when Alex Brosque was brought down in the box by Jem Karacan, and Le Fondre made no mistake from the spot.

However the Mariners held on to claim just their seventh point of the season, keeping alive their hopes of avoiding a last-place finish.

Australian Associated Press