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Sydney win a setback for Mariners in race for top spot

Sydney FC have put a major dent in Central Coast's hopes of lifting the A-League Men premiers' plate, claiming a late 2-0 win that coach Ufuk Talay describes as the best of his tenure.

A maiden goal for Socceroos left-back Joel King and a well-taken strike from experienced midfielder Anthony Caceres secured victory over the reigning champions at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

The result ensures Sydney remain entrenched in the top six, and the win means they are now breathing down the necks of Macarthur FC and Melbourne Victory for the right to host a home elimination final.

"I think from start to finish we were very good with the ball and very good without it," said Talay.

"That's been our best performance since I've been here.

"I'm in awe of our players and what they produced and that they did that for the full 90 to 95 minutes.

"I don't think we rewarded ourselves in the first half with our dominance with the ball ... but we kept being on the front foot and we capitalised and got the two goals."

The loss is a bitter blow for Mark Jackson's Mariners side, who are now three points adrift of league leaders Wellington with just four full rounds of the season left to play.

The Mariners struggled to find an attacking spark, and it wasn't until Alou Kuol came on in the second half that they looked remotely like troubling the Sky Blues.

"I think we were second best against a really good team," Jackson said.

"Where we let ourselves down was probably with the ball."

Winger Joe Lolley tormented the Mariners' defence with some early runs and escaped with a booking after he jumped into a challenge with Storm Roux.

Lolley caught the fullback with his elbow, splitting his brow open midway through the first half and Jackson is insure if the New Zealander will be right to face Melbourne City on Tuesday.

"We tried to patch him up a little bit but he headed one ball and there was a lot of blood coming out," Jackson said.

Joe Lolley and Storm Roux.
Storm Roux is left bloodied after an aerial challenge with Joe Lolley. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

On the opposing flank for Sydney, Robert Mak was making things happen, and were it not for the quick thinking of Brian Kaltak, the Slovakian winger could have put his side in the lead.

Talay brought on striker Fabio Gomes after the halftime break and the Brazilian target man immediately injected some impetus into their attack.

The closest the Mariners went was through Kuol, who had a shot parried away by Andrew Redmayne soon after being sent on.

Sydney kept probing and eventually got their breakthrough when Caceres turned in a cross from Lolley in the 74th minute.

King followed him on to the scoresheet three minutes later, but the fullback had to work for his first senior goal.

Twice in quick succession Kaltak blocked Sydney goal-bound shots any way he could, before King was able to slam the ball past Danny Vukovic to seal victory.