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Central Coast Mariners vs. Sydney FC 2-2 draw, top six race, NSW

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A mistake at the back cost the Central Coast Mariners all three points against Sydney FC, as Trent Buhagiar came off the bench to snatch a 2-2 draw after another A-League thriller.

It’s been too long since the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC met in a top four clash, but on Saturday night at Central Coast Stadium the blockbuster didn’t disappoint.

There was controversy, a Milos Ninkovic stunner and another strike from Matt Simon in a match packed with some of the most entertaining football of the season.

Ninko makes magic in 150th game | 00:28

In the end it was a match neither side deserved to lose, so neither side did, despite both throwing everything they had into finding a winner.

The result means both sides deservedly remain in the top four.

A high quality first half saw the Mariners take an early lead when Marco Urena, played through by Oliver Bozanic, beat the offside trap to score his fourth goal of the season.

It was an excellent finish by the Costa Rican to put the home side in front just seven minutes into the match.

The Mariners took a 2-0 lead late in the first half.Source: Getty Images

The free-flowing football continued with Sydney going close to equalising on two occasions, before a controversial moment denied Bobo’s goal. The offside flag was raised, but replays showed the final touch clearly came off a Mariners player.

With the Sky Blues still processing the incorrect call, the Mariners went back down the other end and, after a neat one-two between Matt Simon and Josh Nisbet, a clinical finish from Simon doubled the home side’s lead in the 41st minute.

But Ninkovic had the final say when he got on the end of Luke Brattan’s lofted pass and flicked the ball into the back of the net.

It was a sublime finish from the Serbian in his 150th A-League match to get Sydney back into the contest right on the stroke of half time.

The end-to-end action continued into the second half, with the Mariners going close to extending their lead first through Simon, then Urena.

But it was Bobo who again put the ball in the back of the net, only for his goal to again be flagged for offside. This time, though, the decision was less controversial after Ninkovic was clearly offside in the build up.

Not that it did much to appease Steve Corica, with the Sydney coach left fuming on the sideline.

But Sydney’s dominance in the second half eventually paid off when Buhagiar came off the bench to snatch an equaliser with just over five minutes to play.

It was a costly mistake from the Mariners, who were caught trying to play the ball out from the back.

The result was Sydney’s third-straight draw, the first such streak for the Sky Blues since 2007.

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