Mariners upset over pre-season loss
Defending A-League champions Central Coast claim they've been robbed of victory with several "suspect" refereeing decisions in the final of a pre-season tournament in Indonesia.
The Mariners went down 2-1 to Arema FC in the Menpora Cup decider on Sunday - both goals conceded on the back of two controversial penalty calls.
Assistant coach Phil Moss said the weight of the refereeing decisions in the eight-team invitational tournament showpiece undoubtedly favoured their Indonesian Super League opponents.
"It is clear that only one side was meant to win tonight's final - and it most certainly wasn't us," Moss said post-match.
"We have had a great time in Indonesia - the tournament has been well organised and the Indonesian people have been very friendly - but unfortunately the nature of the referee's performance tonight leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths."
Nearly 38,500 people watched on as attacker Keith Kayamba Gumbs netted the first of two penalties at Kanjuruhan Stadium, after referee Oki Dwi Putra Senjaya blew the whistle on a sliding challenge from skipper John Hutchinson.
Mariners star Marcos Flores levelled the score just before half-time, but that was negated by another penalty minutes after the main break with Hutchinson adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
Moss, also frustrated by frequent stoppages for "innocuous-looking injuries", said claims of dubious refereeing was seemingly shared by their opponents.
"Many of the Arema players and staff felt compelled to apologise to our boys after the game, so that should give people some indication of what's gone on tonight," he said.
Regardless, the assistant coach said the tournament had been a worthwhile experience for his side in preparation for their A-League opener against Western Sydney on October 12.
"We've played some real high quality games with short turnarounds between the matches and in front of some very hostile crowds," he said.
"Every player in the squad has got the game time required to be fit and ready to push for selection for round one."
The Mariners will return to Sydney on Monday ahead of training on Thursday.
Meanwhile, an experimental Mariners side lost 2-1 to Newcastle Jets in a separate trial match in Tamworth on Sunday.