Western NSW Mariners FC had a rough welcome to the new Football NSW Premier League 3 season last weekend, suffering a 5-1 hammering at the hands of the SD Raiders, one of league's heavyweights.
Western coach Mark Rooke did say he thought the four-goal margin flattered the Raiders somewhat, although he admitted his side's defensive shape left plenty to be desired in the early stages of the round one encounter.
The Raiders struck three times in the opening 60 minutes before the Mariners clicked into a gear a bit and pegged one back through Jaiden Culbert, although their rivals did strike twice more in the dying stages to blow the scoreline out.
"The boys were ready and willing to play but mentally I still don't think we're quite there, and you could see that in the first half," he said.
"Next thing you know they're in behind us, crosses come in and three goals scored exactly the same way."
Rooke looked for positives despite the result and although his side had a few more chances, the Raiders' execution in front of goal proved far better than Western's.
"They picked themselves up in the last 15 minutes of the first half and got themselves back into the game. We more ball and created a few more chances," he said.
"At 3-1 I thought we still had a chance in the second half if we could change things up. The boys adapted to that well.
"For the first 20 minutes of the next half I'd say we were the better team. The difference is that they were more clinical with the ball and finishing their chances in the front third of the pitch than we were.
"I think the score flatters them a little. We had our chances and didn't do well enough but I don't think 5-1 is a fair indication of the match.
"We're back to training and looking to rectify several things quickly."
Western will look to hit back on Saturday night at Lithgow against Dulwich Hill FC, a side that also dropped their opening round clash.
Western's women didn't fare much better against the Central Coast at Lisarow, just north of Gosford, suffering a 3-nil defeat to their Premier League 2 rivals. The Mariners' women face UNSW FC on Sunday, also at Lithgow.
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