An already long and difficult season continued on Saturday as Western NSW Mariners were completely outclassed in their National Premier League 3 clash against SD Raider FC as the home side lost 7-2 at Jack Brabham Park.
SD Raiders were far more clinical in the forward half and played with far more freedom than the Mariners could muster, finding space and pinpointing passes which their opposition couldn't get to work.
The visitors had a goal on the board early through the right side before a long ball sat on top of Brock Logan's head and Daniel Bittar pounced directly in front of the net.
In contrast the Mariners, who are staring down the barrel of relegation, couldn't get passes and crosses to stick in the first 15 minutes, continuing to find Raiders players when moving the ball back into the centre of the pitch.
If we scored early it would open doors for us, if we didn't and let them fight and battle which they do very well, then they would so it was very important.Raiders coach Nick Carle
The Mariners only clicked twice in the first half, with one cross in from Matt Hobby finding James Christie's head for an on-target shot brilliantly deflected by Raiders' keeper Michael Rutherford, before the Mariners duo reversed roles for Hobby to find the back of of the net.
However, those two moments were the only two bright moments for the Mariners in the first half as Anthony Proia closed the first stanza with another Raiders goal to end the half 4-1 and the game all but over.
His goal came after both Matt Corben and Logan came a fraction too late to challenge him a few metres forward of the centre line, with the striker able to get his kick bouncing away to bounce off the woodwork into an open goal.
After the Mariners used every second off their time in the shed they came out for 20 minutes of challenging football and pushing forward without having any shots on target, but Proia nabbed his second goal running with a beautiful long-range shot from outside the box.
As Western have done so many times in the past few years, one became two for the Mariners as they lost possession nearly immediately after the kick and crossed long to Ben Welch, who slid it past Logan with the outside of the boot.
From there the Mariners dropped their heads, and while Jeremy Judge added a controversial consolation goal, two more scores were to come from Raiders' Diego Molina and Paz Matias boots.
Judge scored his goal from long range after a foul on Jackson Fuda left him with a dislocated shoulder. The referee blew his whistle for the foul with Fuda on the ground, while Judge took possession and played on, sending the ball over an unsuspecting Rutherford and into the net.
We just switched off when the ball came in the box and were reactive instead of proactive.Mariners stand-in coach Josh Ward
Raiders coach Nick Carle said he was "very happy" with his side's effort.
"If we scored early it would open doors for us, if we didn't and let them fight and battle which they do very well, then they would so it was very important," he said.
"We wanted to put it to bed (after half time), we knew they would not stop working which they've shown in both games we've played them. We knew we had to get another goal which we did, it was a very professional performance.
"I thought all the boys did well, the boys that score need the boys who defend to play well for them."
Josh Ward stood in as Mariners coach for the day with Mark Rooke suspended, and admitted the day didn't go to plan.
"We conceded bad goals, they made one or two chances but in the end it was out mistakes that led to goals," he said.
"We just switched off when the ball came in the box and were reactive instead of proactive."
He said the communication and defensive organisation was focused, which improved in the second half, following similar themes to the rest of the Mariners' season.
- SD RAIDERS FC 7 (Anthony Proia 2, Deigo Molina, Daniel Bittar, Toro Matias, Ben Welch, Paz Matias 1) def WESTERN NSW MARINERS 2 (Jeremy Judge, Matt Hobby 1).