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Inexperience hitting Mariners hard

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/01/2017 Cathy Walshe

A lack of composure and experience in the attacking third is proving costly for the Central Coast Mariners, according to coach Paul Okon.

The Mariners slipped to their ninth loss of the A-League season on Saturday, edged 1-0 by Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadiuim.

There were positives to take from the defeat, Okon said, not least the fact that they didn't concede a goal for 85 minutes.

Wellington midfielder Michael McGlinchey's ninth-minute strike remained the difference between the teams.

Although the Mariners created more chances in the second half, they couldn't find the final crucial finish.

It's a problem which has haunted them for much of the season - at just past the halfway mark, they have scored 16 goals in 15 games while conceding 32.

"We got into some good areas but probably lacked that final pass, or that decision where you need a little bit of composure," Okon said.

"It's an area we're working on, we're trying to improve."

Progress had been made, he said, pointing to improved recent performances in losing 3-2 to competition leaders Sydney FC and drawing 2-2 with third-placed Melbourne City.

But it has been seven weeks since Central Coast's last victory, a 2-0 win over Perth Glory, and they've earned one point from a possible 21 since.

Okon can't fault the effort and attitude of his young players, and says they're improving with every game.

"It's that mid to front third where we need a littlle bit more composure and better decision-making," he said.

With a back four and goalie averaging around 21 years old, Okon says patience is going to be key as the season progresses.

"As they gain more experience, they become better footballers," he said.

"They performed well tonight - we're disappointed we didn't get something from the game but we're confident that we'll win more games between now and the end of the season."

Central Coast face a quick turnaround, with just five days before their next match against Melbourne City at AAMI Park.

"We'll go home and prepare for another big game - we're eager and hungry to get our third win of the season," Okon said.

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