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Sloppy Wanderers held by Mariners in AL

AAP logoAAP 29/10/2016 Emma Kemp

Super-sub cum starter Brendon Santalab scored Western Sydney's quickest-ever A-League goal but sloppiness has again denied Tony Popovic's men a second win of the season, this time held 1-1 by Central Coast.

Like last Sunday's 2-2 stalemate with Newcastle, Saturday night's Spotless Stadium tussle should have belonged to the Wanderers but they let the lead slip through their fingers for the second straight week.

Mitch Nichols missed three gilt-edged chances while a shocking backpass from Robbie Cornthwaite threw goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne under the bus to gift the Mariners their second-half equaliser.

Had the Mariners been granted a late penalty appeal they may have stolen all three points, though coach Paul Okon was content to take home a second point of the campaign.

"We forced that goal by our enthusiasm, our hunger, our press," Okon said.

"In the end we were more than worthy a point and quite possibly maybe even three points."

The Wanderers, on the other hand, missed a chance to crack the top four and are without a home win in three games since leaving Pirtek Stadium.

"We had numerous opportunities but unfortunately we couldn't put the game to bed," Popovic said.

"And we conceded a goal out of nothing, which is happening at the moment."

The hosts' drop-off followed a rapid-fire start when Santalab, having time and again demonstrated a shrewd capacity for netting late winners off the bench, provided a lesson on what can happen when given a start.

The 34-year-old, elevated to the XI an hour before kick-off in place of the mysteriously omitted Kerem Bulut, was on the scoresheet just 82 seconds into the scrappy contest.

An intelligent right side run allowed Santalab to latch onto a feed by starting debutant Nicolas Martinez and pocket the opener in the left corner.

Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo was beaten on that occasion but justified his second selection ahead of Ivan Necevski by denying the red and black more than once, including a dive to parry away a header from Japanese winger Jumpei Kusukami.

Jumpei was effervescent as ever, involved in many an attacking foray and hitting the underside of crossbar from distance just before halftime.

Central Coast enjoyed their share of good spells, with Connor Pain's speed almost producing a second-half winner but for an off-target finish.

But while Okon's youthful squad did what they could to implement his new style, their collective skill was simply less than that of their opponents.

In that vein, the Wanderers should have put the Mariners away when they had chances - and there were many.

In the end it was poor Redmayne left high and dry but unlike his two game-changing errors last weekend, there was nothing he could have done to stop this goal.

Cornthwaite sold him short, focing him to rush into a challenge with a sliding Roy O'Donovan, his block clearing the ball for 19-year-old midfielder Adam Berry to tap home.

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