City played out it’s first friendly against A-League Men’s opposition this pre-season on Saturday, going down 2-0 to Central Coast in Gosford.
Despite City controlling possession for large periods of the 90 minutes, it was the Mariners who did the damage on the scoreboard, striking in both halves.
With a handful of players unavailable particularly in midfield, Patrick Kisnorbo sprung some surprises in selection.
Captain Scott Jamieson, Max Caputo and Mathew Leckie comprised an unlikely midfield trio, while a familiar front three of Andrew Nabbout, Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio were named further up the pitch.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 4. Nuno REIS, 38. Jordan BOS, 3. Scott JAMIESON (C), 37. Max CAPUTO, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 23. Marco TILIO, 9. Jamie MACLAREN.
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 18. Jordon HALL, 20. Harry POLITIDIS, 30. Luke ORESTI, 65. Sebastian ESPOSITO.
The hosts had the first chance of the afternoon with Mariners winger Beni Nkololo forcing Tom Glover into a sharp early save.
A well-timed ball from Leckie found Caputo in the sixth minute, which saw City win its first corner of the outing, although the Mariners were able to deal with the set piece comfortably.
City controlled possession early but gave the ball away cheaply in the ninth minute which saw Jason Cummings capitalise with a goal on the counter.
Some nice link-up play between Callum Talbot and Nabbout down the right saw City win a pair of corners not long after as it pressed for an equaliser, but the Mariners defence was again able to deal with the danger.
Samuel Silvera then had a chance from a free-kick in a dangerous area on the stroke of the half hour mark, but Glover was able to bat the attempt away.
City had a nice move down the right moments later before Jamieson switched play to Tilio on the opposite flank, but the 21-year-old attacker’s shot flew over the bar
Jamieson was one of City’s best despite playing in an unfamiliar midfield role and was again involved in the 36th minute. The skipper found Nabbout with a lofted ball and the winger was able to cut inside and beat his man before firing into the crossbar, with Maclaren also going close to scoring on the follow up.
City went tantalisingly close once again in the 42nd minute when Jamieson’s set-piece found the head of Leckie who forced a sharp reflex save from Danny Vukovic, before again shooting on target but seeing his attempt saved from the resulting corner.
The second half played out much like the first, with City holding majority of possession but unable to create a clear cut chance to find its way back into the game, the cohesion between midfield and attack looking slightly off with an different mix in the middle of the pitch to usual.
Central Coast was able to double its advantage against the run of play in the 57th minute with Michael Ruhs scoring in transition after a City turnover.
Academy product Harry Politidis replaced Max Caputo in the 72nd minute as City reshuffled with Tilio moving into midfield and Bos shifting further forward on the left.
Curtis Good came up with an important clearance with 10 minutes to play to keep City in the match, stopping what would’ve been an easy Mariners tap in at the back post.
Kisnorbo’s men continued to search for a goal to get themselves back in the game in the final stages, but the clash would ultimately finish 2-0.