Central Coast Mariners are unfazed by the prospect of being the chasers in the final phase of the A-League season.
For so long, Graham Arnold's side have looked firm favourites to secure the Premier's Plate. But their 14-week run at the top of the league came to an end when they failed to turn a dominant performance against Western Sydney onto the scoresheet.
The Mariners succumbed to Labinot Haliti's late effort at Bluetongue Stadium, as the Wanderers pulled off their eighth straight win. But playmaker Michael McGlinchey says the premiership chase is far from over.
"We certainly haven't given up on catching them," said the New Zealand international. "Our confidence is unaffected and we won't be changing anything in our approach or the way we play."
With four rounds remaining, Western Sydney look to have much the easier schedule. For McGlinchey, though, the interesting question is how the Wanderers react to the pressure of being at the top of the table.
"They are top of the league and they are the favourites now – but with that comes a pressure and an expectation all of its own," said McGlinchey, who signed a new two-year deal last month.
"It will be very interesting to see how they handle that.
"We know from our own experience in losing in Perth the other week that teams at the bottom can spring all sorts of surprises in the A-League and that no result is ever nailed on."
Central Coast spurned a golden chance to take something out of the game on Saturday, when goalkeeper Mat Ryan missed a penalty. They also saw an effort from Daniel McBreen hit the underside of the crossbar. Now, they need to knuckle down for the trip to Sydney FC on Saturday at Allianz Stadium, before they tackle Brisbane Roar (home), Adelaide (away) and Melbourne Heart (home).
Central Coast are 2.05 to beat Sydney FC, who are 3.60. The Mariners are 9.00 to win 1-0.
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