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 By AAP

Central Coast Mariners 'were brave' vs. reigning champs Sydney FC - Okon

If A-League punters could pick a team most likely to trouble all-conquering Sydney FC, not many would have selected stragglers Central Coast.

They would have been wrong, after the ninth-placed Mariners held the defending champions to a 1-1 draw two months after upsetting them 2-0 in Gosford.

Back in their home fortress of Allianz Stadium, Saturday night was supposed to be about revenge.

It amounted to another example of the Sky Blues on an off night against a Mariners side willing to put men behind the ball and restrict their forward movement.

"We know they're a great side, [but] if we come here and show them that we know it's going to be a long evening," Mariners coach Paul Okon said.

"We were brave, we knew they'd come after us and press us high, but we made a point all throughout the week of showing responsibility and playing through the press."

Fortunately for Graham Arnold on his 200th coaching appearance, Bobo's second-half header saved the day -- and Sydney's now 25-match undefeated streak at Allianz Stadium.

Rather less fortunately, it means the league leaders only go seven points clear of Newcastle instead of the nine on offer.

Andrew Hoole, Blake Powell & Lachlan Wales
Blake Powell, centre, opened in the scoring from the spot in the seventh minute.

"The Mariners played well but they didn't have a shot on target the second half," Arnold said. "We had enough chances to win two games."

A calamitous Sydney error gifted the visitors a penalty in the seventh minute.

Josh Brillante sold Andrew Redmayne short with a back-pass and the goalkeeper fouled the onrushing Kwabena Appiah on his way out to collect, leaving Blake Powell to slot home from the spot.

Sydney were guilty of playing tentatively despite being put under little pressure.

There were chances; Milos Ninkovic skewed a shot high, Alex Brosque was denied by Ben Kennedy and Bobo scored a would-be equaliser from an offside position.

It was a far sight from their usual fearless attacking play.

The Mariners would have doubled their lead and won had Lachy Wales not executed the miss of the season from Sydney's goalmouth in the final kick of the first half.

It was just as well for Sydney, who could thank one outstanding passage of play for the result.

Adrian Mierzejewski's ball landed flush on Bobo's head and he directed it over Kennedy's head to leave the bewildered gloveman on the ground.

In an occasion to savour for the Brazilian striker, his 16th goal of the season brings him equal with Marc Janko's club record for most goals in a single campaign.

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