Moss: Mariners have bottle for the battle

Central Coast coach Phil Moss has knocked back suggestions his side lacks the required intensity to turn their A-League season around.

The Mariners’ winless run in the competition stretched to seven games on Sunday after they were forced to come-from-behind to draw 1-1 with Newcastle Jets in the F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium. 

Both sides were guilty of a tame first-half with little in terms of goal-scoring opportunities before things picked up after the break. 

Edson Montano gave the Jets the lead three minutes into the second half before Richard Vernes earned the Mariners a point with his first A-League goal seven minutes later. 

“Have you ever played at 5 o’clock in a heatwave,” Moss said when asked about a lack of urgency in that first half. 

“It’s not easy. If you look at our game against Western Sydney the other week, a 7.30 kick-off under lights, you get a different intensity and a different atmosphere.

“We’ve got 65 percent of our games this year at 5 o’clock. That’s probably got something to do with TV ratings. 

“At least we’re conditioned to it but playing under the sun in hot conditions - and they were steamy conditions today - certainly affects the intensity of the game.” 

While his side hasn’t managed a win since their opening round victory over the Jets, Moss believes the Mariners are making the right strides over the last few games.

Last weekend’s home defeat to Adelaide United has been their only defeat from their last four matches and he was proud of their ability to fight-back after going behind on Sunday. 

“It’s a tough place to come at the best of times,” Moss said. 

“You go a goal down and to come back and level it and probably have the better chances to go on and win the game shows what we’re made of. 

“I think it’s  a step forward in the belief stakes today and a sign of how far we’ve come is that were disappointed we let two points slip away.” 

Another positive for the Mariners was the performance of import Vernes, who has taken time to settle into the A-League. 

The Hungarian not only scored the equaliser but showed some impressive touches in the physical midfield battle. 

“We took our time with him. We had no doubt about his quality, I just think Richie came here and didn’t realise how physical the league was,” Moss said. 

“He had a couple of issues in pre-season and we just wanted to get him right before we unleashed him and I think he showed some really promising signs today.”