Sydney FC 1 Central Coast Mariners 1: Le Fondre strike averts shock defeat
Adam Le Fondre scored a penalty to rescue Sydney FC a 1-1 draw as they narrowly escaped a shock defeat to bottom club Central Coast Mariners in the first A-League match at Leichhardt Oval.
Aiden O'Neill's accurate finish put the visitors in front on a scorching day, a lead they defended resolutely as they searched for only their second league win of the season.
They remained on course for victory until the 76th minute, when Jem Karacan conceded a penalty that gave Le Fondre the opportunity to score his 13th goal of the season.
Still, despite the equaliser, Sydney missed the chance to leapfrog over Melbourne Victory in the table, the result leaving them a point behind in third.
O'Neill's goal came against the run of play after 36 minutes. The Burnley loanee received the ball on the edge of the box before side-footing it neatly beyond goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, who did get a hand to it.
Alex Brosque was sent on just after the hour mark to add fresh legs to the Sydney attack and the substitute was bundled over by Karacan as the hosts pushed for a leveller.
Le Fondre confidently swept the penalty kick into the bottom right corner of the net to spare his side's blushes.