Central Coast Mariners was beaten 2-0 by battle-ready Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium in its first pre-season clash against an A-League opponent on Wednesday evening.
With their 2012 AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg against Uzbek giant Bunyodkor a week away, John Kosmina’s men were primed for the meeting having already enjoyed a series of tough tests against other A-League rivals.
After a goalless first half, the Reds’ extra match sharpness ultimately told as left-back Cassio and striker Sergio van Dijk fired the home team to the win.
The Mariners were not without their chances in the city of churches and attacking midfielder Tom Rogic tested Reds custodian Eugene Galekovic twice during the first half.
Former Australia striker Bruce Djite had two chances of his own after Rogic’s opportunities but he couldn’t trouble Mariners gloveman Mathew Ryan.
Adelaide broke the deadlock via recently naturalised Australian Cassio in the 61st minute.
And after Josh Rose had his 88th minute header well saved by Galekovic, Van Dijk hammered the ball home deep into stoppage time to add gloss to the scoreline.
Mariners coach Arnold said he knew Adelaide would be a tough proposition.
“Adelaide United’s priority is next week, whereas ours is on October 6 against Western Sydney,” Arnold said.
“The game tonight was more about Adelaide and us trying to help prepare them for next week. It was played in good spirits and I think both teams got a lot out of the game.”
Time supposedly heals all wounds, but one month on from the A-League grand final and Western Sydney captain Michael Beauchamp is still hurting.