Despite receiving praise from Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick, Mariners coach Tony Walmsley was bitterly disappointed to lose their Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 clash on Tuesday night.
The Mariners were the architects of their own downfall after a goalkeeper howler and a missed penalty saw Central Coast lose 1-0 to Wellington in Gosford.
And despite some good moments going forward, the professionalism and experience of Phoenix saw them through to the Round of 16.
“Ernie (Merrick) thinks we were the better side but we’re looking at it from a different perspective,” Walmsley said after the game at Central Coast stadium.
“Yes, we can see a lot of room to improvement in a lot of areas.
“There were some positive signs tonight with some good forward momentum… (But) a missed penalty - it could’ve been better.
“I’m just a bit disappointed that so many people turned up and we couldn’t get a result.”
After a bright start in front of a good crowd, it went horribly wrong for the Mariners with a bad mistake from debut goalkeeper Paul Izzo handing Phoenix the lead.
A penalty miss by new striker Roy O’Donovan in the final 10 minutes capped a disappointing evening for the Yellow and Blue, though Walmsley saw some positives.
“There were some good performances so early in the season,” he added. “It was a pretty young backline against an experienced Wellington line up.
“But there were some lessons to be learnt at half-time. We did change the dynamics in the second half and were a little more direct and maybe had a bit more traction in their half of the field.
“It left us a little open in defence but there’s a lot of room for improvement, that’s what I take out of it.”
Walmsley explained the team will continue to ramp up their training with a trip to Canberra next week as part of their preparations for the A-League season in 60 days' time.
And he noted that some of the heavy fitness work may have shown up in the display on Tuesday night.
"It'll be a very intense camp," he said of next week in the nation's capital where the Mariners will do double sessions each day and play two games.
"Once we get through Canberra we'll see a shift in the dynamics of the team physically.”