REIGNING A-League champions Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners played out a tight 2-2 draw in their pre-season friendly at the Sydney Showground on Saturday night.
Amazingly, the Sky Blues took a 1-nil lead in the first minute of the game after Alex Brosque ran down a poor defensive pass from Mariners keeper Mathew Ryan but the game exploded to life in the second stanza with three goals in eight minutes.
After a relatively even first half it was Adam Kwasnik who got the Mariners level in the 60th minute after tapping in when the ball fell to ground after Sky Blues keeper Liam Reddy had made a strong save from a Matt Simon attempt.
But the Mariners joy was short lived when less than 60 seconds later Mark Bridge, who came on for Brosque at half-time, slammed in a right foot goal off a pin point cross from Scott Jamieson who continued his stellar pre-season with another outstanding performance, handing the Sky Blues the lead for the second time.
Capping off a frenetic eight minutes of play was when Matt Simon found the back of the net with a volley in the 66th minute to again level the scores.
With possession from a free-kick a few metres outside the penalty box, the Mariners put into action a set-play that saw Simon run over the dead ball before receiving the ball in the box before putting in a cross that resulted in a Sydney FC defender clearing a strong header off the line.
However, Simon then latched onto the clearance to give the Mariners their second.
The Mariners tested the Sky Blues defence regularly throughout the first 45 minutes, forcing Sydney keeper Liam Reddy into two top class saves, first in the 10th minute from an Alex Wilkinson header and then again in the 36th minute from new Mariner Patrick Zwaanswijk.
Jamieson, much like previous pre-season games, combined well with McFlynn through the middle for Sydney FC while the Mariners tall timber continued to get into good positions at the back post, consistently getting onto deep swinging balls but Reddy was well and truly up to the challenge.
The crowd saved their biggest cheer of the night for the return of Danning who took to the pitch for the first time since December 2009 after recovering from knee reconstruction.
Danning entered the game in the 68th minute and played upfront for the remainder of the game.
The Sky Blues now turn their attention to the Sydney Festival of Football which kicks-off on Sunday 25 July and the club's clash with Greek club AEK Athens.
The Mariners are next in action in a training match against Newcastle Jets on Thursday, 22 July at Budgewoi Soccer Club.
Sydney FC 2 (Alex Brosque 1', Mark Bridge 60')
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Adam Kwasnik 59', Matt Simon 66')
Sydney FC Line-up: 1.Liam REDDY, 5. Hayden FOXE, 7. Brendan GAN, 13. Antony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE (Mark BRIDGE 45'), 15. Terry MCFLYNN (c), 21. Scott JAMIESON (23. Rhyan GRANT 83'), 22. Sung-Hawn BYUN (Stephan KELLER 72'), 25. Nathan SHERLOCK, 26. Dimitri PETRATOS (11. Kofi DANNING 68'), 28. Hiro MORIYASU
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk).
Yellow Cards: 27' Hayden FOXE, Antony GOLEC 78'
Red Cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners Line-up: 1. Mathew RYAN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK (Rostyn GRIFFITHS 45'), 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA (Matt SIMON 45'), 11. Oliver BOZANIC (12. Michael LEWIS 68'), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY (4. Pedj BOJIC 62') 18. Alex WILKSONSON, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Nikodin MATIC (gk).
Yellow Cards: 45' Alex WILKINSON
Red Cards: Nil.