Sydney FC drew 1-1 with the Central Coast Mariners in a dramatic A-League match at the Sydney Football Stadium this evening.
The two goalkeepers appeared the villains of the piece.
A terrible mistake by the Mariners’ inexperienced Mathew Ryan, who took the place of Jess Van Stratten, who will miss the rest of the season because of a knee ligament injury suffered at training this week, allowed Sydney to take the lead early in the second half.
And, near the end, Sydney custodian Liam Reddy conceded a penalty and was sent off.
The Mariners’ Argentinian signing, Patricio Perez, netted the spot-kick to make it 1-1.
Perez made his A-League debut for the Mariners when he came on as a 53rd-minute substitute for Rostyn Griffiths and he had a sensational match.
Not only did he score the penalty - which was controversial as there appeared little if any contact by Reddy, who also wasn’t the last defender - he headed another effort into the net but was incorrectly ruled off-side.
Sydney’s players were incensed by the referee’s penalty decision and the dismissal of Reddy and four of them received yellow cards in the space of four minutes for dissent (between the 72nd and 75th minutes). Sydney coach Vitezslav Levicka, to his great credit, came to the touchline and urged his players to calm down.
It was referee Matthew Breeze’s 100th A-League match and he could not have had a more controversial one.
Perez’s distribution, vision and mobility were outstanding and only a block by substitute keeper Ivan Necevski prevented him from adding another goal on his debut.
His cross from the right in the closing minutes found Adam Kwasnik, but he directed his header straight at Necevski.
Tasmanian fans can be delighted that they saw the Argentinian in action in Launceston and Hobart before he actually made his A-League debut.
Sydney twice hit the woodwork in the first half.
In the 12th minute, a Mark Bridge shot took a deflection off the Mariners central defender Patrick Zwaanswijk and hit the outside of Mathew Ryan’s right-hand post.
In the 34th minute, Nick Carle put Sebastian Ryall through with a precise pass, but the latter’s shot also hit the outside of the same post.
Sydney hit the front in the 47th minute when a low cross from the left by Byun Sung-Hwan bounced just short of the keeper and carried through to Rhyan Grant, who smashed the ball home from close range.
Twenty minutes from the end, Matt Simon appeared to handle the ball before flicking it through for Perez, who raced across the face of goal and went down as Reddy dived for the ball at his feet. The Mariners were awarded a penalty and Reddy was shown the red card. Necevski replaced Reddy in goal and striker Kofi Danning was sacrificed.
Perez easily converted the spot-kick, scoring with a low shot to the keeper’s right.
The point moved the Mariners up to fourth spot, while Sydney, whose chairman is Tasmanian businessman Scott Barlow, moved from second-last to seventh on the 11-team ladder.