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Sydney down Mariners to close in on Plate

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/03/2017 Emma Kemp

Sydney FC can officially claim the A-League Premiers' Plate within 24 hours, after an unemphatic 1-0 win over Central Coast put them on the brink of a first trophy in seven seasons.

The Sky Blues struggled to find their ruthless streak at Allianz Stadium on Friday night but Filip Holosko's seventh goal of the season was sufficient to extend their lead to 14 points, meaning Melbourne Victory must defeat Perth at AAMI Park on Saturday evening to keep the race alive for another week.

Brandon O'Neill was the fulcrum of Sydney's only goal eight minutes in, scooping up a deflection and passing to skipper Alex Brosque, who played it wide to Michael Zullo.

The left-back's in-swinging cross was pinpoint and the finish equally expert, as Holosko made an intelligent run at the far post for a right-foot volley.

Brosque had a chance to double the lead minutes later but was denied by former Sky Blues goalkeeper Ivan Necevski, whose performance was admirable in place of suspended first choice Paul Izzo.

Rhyan Grant had trouble keeping up with speedy Mariners winger Kwabena Appiah but the Socceroos call-up, who took a knock while nearly scoring an own goal just before halftime, would have doubled the lead if not for a fine save from Necevski, before Brosque fired the deflection well over the bar.

The Mariners had more possession and worked hard to stay in the game but were well-contained by their hosts, with Danny Vukovic largely untested except for Appiah's early shot.

Yet the record-breaking Sky Blues couldn't put the game to bed, epitomised by Bobo's inability to bury a tap-in from a Holosko header on the hour mark.

It should have been done 15 minutes from the end of regular time when Liam Rose brought down Bernie Ibini in the box.

However, substitute winger Ibini stepped up and sent his spot-kick straight at Necevski.

Ibini then had an effort hit the crossbar.

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