Central Coast Mariners interim coach Tony Walmsley was pleased with the way his side applied the screws to Adelaide United with an impressive high press early, before ultimately falling to a 2-1 loss at Coopers Stadium on Thursday night.
The Mariners sustained some serious pressure in the opening half-hour, pressing high and forcing the rattled Reds, well outside their comfort zone, to fire errant long balls out of defence.
As a result, Central Coast enjoyed, at least initially, a strong statistical advantage in possession percentage and total passes, a rarity for visiting teams at Hindmarsh this season.
Anthony Caceres got the Mariners on the board with a 20-yard rifle in the 23rd minute but the visitors' joy was brief - 67 seconds to be exact - as Marcelo Carrusca quickly equalised for United.
"We started the way we intended to start," Walmsley said.
"Everything that we thought we could achieve, we started to achieve in terms of a higher press.
"We thought there would be some vulnerability when we won the ball back and we went at them quickly.
"We got a goal and probably deserved to lead at that stage, (but) very disappointed to concede so soon after."
Walmsley believes that with a full preseason of conditioning and hard work, the taxing style could prove fruitful down the track.
On the evidence of Thursday night, Central Coast aren't quite ready to take it up full time.
"It was definitely a physicality thing," Walmsley said.
"You really need to build on that through a pre-season if you're going to do it properly.
"The second half highlighted the gap that we need to work on to be able to do that and sustain it for longer periods."
The plucky Mariners were far from disgraced in defeat and had numerous opportunities firstly to steal a more substantial early lead, then later to claw back a 2-2 deadlock after Craig Goodwin's rather fortunate 67th-minute match-winner, which took a wicked deflection off defender Zac Anderson, giving gloveman Liam Reddy no chance.
In-form ex-Adelaide winger Fabio Ferreira was the subject of most of the pre-game talk following the reneging of the so-called 'gentleman's agreement' that he wouldn't play against his old side, not to mention his outstanding recent form with his new club.
Ferreira curled a decent attempt just high in the sixth minute and bobbed up for a few second-half cameos, but he was otherwise extremely well held by new Socceroo Tarek Elrich.
"We couldn't get him (Ferreira) into the game as much as we would have liked," Walmsley said.
"He had a cork from the back-end of the first half.
"We saw a couple of moments from him in the second half but he'll be okay."comments