Debut goal for Juric snares deserved point for Wanderers

Tomi Juric was the hero scoring a late equaliser as the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers were unable to capitalise on a dominating display against the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

Tomi Juric was the hero scoring a late equaliser as the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers were unable to capitalise on a dominating display against the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

The opening game of the Wanderers Premiership defence finished in a thrilling 1-1 draw as Juric-s 87th-minute goal cancelled out Mitchell Duke's strike against the run of play.

Head Coach Tony Popovic praised the general play of the team but lamented not taking full advantage of their domination.

“I thought we deserved a bit more than a point but we didn-t score when we were dominating,” said Popovic.

“When you have those opportunities you have to put them away especially when we are playing a very good side away from home.”

A sell-out crowd of 17,134 in Gosford saw the Red and Black dominate proceedings early as their midfield was able to negate the impact of Flores.

A goalmouth scramble in the 15th minute should have opened the scoring for the visitors who forced Mariners goalkeeper Justin Pasfield into a double-save before midfielder Youssouf Hersi blasted over the crossbar.

In the 21st minute Fitzgerald had a shot blocked and four minutes later Mateo Poljak shot wide barely after Mariners defender Joshua Rose was disposed of the ball.

Wanderers striker Labinot Haliti couldn't connect for Tony Popovic's side with two chances he had late in the half.

Late in the half Mariners veteran Mile Sterjovski had an attempt go over the bar as the sides went to the break deadlocked at 0-0 before Duke opened up the scoring with his 55th-minute strike.

After the goal to Graham Arnold's side, Popovic didn't wait long before bringing on key substitutes Shinji Ono and Juric.

Following those changes Wanderers striker Mark Bridge had two chances in the 62nd and 74th minute but the Mariners held their ground.

The Mariners had cause for concern as Flores went down with an apparent knee injury and was substituted in the 79th minute.

The introduction of Ono nearly paid dividends as Pasfield had to save an 81st-minute free kick from the Wanderers playmaker Ono.

But the visitors didn't have long to wait until Juric's equaliser saw them take a point away from home with Hersi providing the cross.

(Duke 55) Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Juric 87) Crowd: 17,134