Central Coast coach Phil Moss admits he’s relieved to have ended his side’s horror run but insists it was just what he needed in his development as a mentor.
Moss praised his charges’ mental and physical toughness to rebound from their four losses on the trot with a desperately-needed 2-1 victory over Sydney FC on Saturday.
Not since December 2009 had the defending champions lost so many A-League games in a row, the defeats compounded by a mid-week Asian Champions League loss away to FC Seoul.
Moss, who was promoted to the top job in November after serving as assistant to Graham Arnold for three years, says the defeats have been invaluable.
“I feel relieved tonight,” Moss said.
“But the last four or five weeks I’ve embraced it because am I fighter and I love a challenge.
“I think I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last five weeks as a person and a coach than if we’d had five wins.”
A perfectly-taken free-kick from Kim Seung-Yong and a sensational strike from Mitchell Duke ensured victory, lifting the Mariners two points above Sydney into fifth spot with six games remaining before the finals.
Second-half substitute Richard Garcia did well to get one back from a tight angle for Sydney, who were looking for a third straight win but instead continued their roller coaster season.
Moss says however, a title defence is far from his mind as the club continues to rebuild after losing a host of key players and enduring several changes since beginning his tenure.
“Our sole aim is to make sure we consolidate that spot in the top six and once you finish in the top six anything is possible and team can go on and win it,” he said.
“It been said and written about how many changes we’ve had but I really do believe it’s time to look forward and not back.”
The win came at a cost for the Mariners however, with defender Eddy Bosnar likely to be sidelined after suffering a groin injury while Joshua Rose received a few stitches after a nasty head clash but appears to have avoided any concussion.
Sydney did look far more threatening in the second half with usual suspect Alessandro Del Piero displaying his delft touch to create their best chances.
With only two points separating the Sky Blues from the seventh-placed Wellington, Sydney coach Frank Farina knows they’ll have a fight on their hands as the season draws to a close.
And it won’t get any easier as they host second-placed Western Sydney and frontrunners Brisbane in their next two games.
“It’s disappointing but we can’t do anything about it now, it’s finished,” Farina said.
“We’ve got two massive games coming up with the derby and Brisbane.
“It’s that business end of the season where there’s going to be a lot more twists and turns but you’ve just got to keep fighting.”