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Okon has faith in Mariners gloveman

AAP logoAAP 22/10/2016 Matt Encarnacion

Central Coast coach Paul Okon is set to stick with gloveman Paul Izzo after a strong season debut in Saturday's A-League loss to Brisbane.

Okon opted to hand Izzo the gloves against the Roar after veteran goalkeeper Ivan Necevski conceded four goals in last week's drubbing to Sydney FC.

And the former Adelaide United man almost single-handled kept the Mariners in the game against Brisbane, denying star Jamie Maclaren three times from point-blank range in Gosford.

"It's what you want from your goalkeeper. They were good saves," Okon said post-game.

However Izzo's near-perfect book was blighted by an error in judgement that resulted in the only goal of the match to Roar midfielder Thomas Kristensen.

Izzo was left stranded after failing to snuff out deflected Brett Holman shot that fell in the middle of the box, and could only watch as Kristensen powered away the game's only goal.

Okon bemoaned Izzo's decision-making but was willing to stand by his man.

"It may have been one or two metres too far, but I'll back my goalkeeper all day long if he's going to be brave and come out and challenge people," Okon said.

"They're those moments that, it happens so fast, you have to make a big decision and he made a decision. Right or wrong, I'll back him."

Okon accepts that, at 21 years of age, Izzo is going to make mistakes.

"That's normal. But tonight I thought his game was solid. He's waited for his opportunity and I think he stepped up," he said.

"After I looked at the (Sydney FC) game, I just thought that Paul's been training hard, he didn't drop his head when he wasn't in the starting line up for the first two games.

"And he was rewarded tonight with being in the starting line-up. I think he responded well."

Another positive for Okon was the successful return of midfielder Fabio Ferreira from injury.

After missing the opening two games of the season with a hamstring strain, the former Chelsea attacker gave the Mariners a creative outlet from the kickoff.

However he ran out of puff and was eventually substituted on the hour.

"We planned it out that he we would play as long as possible without risking any other injury," Okon said.

"Fab's always a threat when he has the ball. He gives us that x-factor, which I think we need."

The Mariners next take on Western Sydney next Saturday.

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