|By JOHN GRECO
Graham Arnold believes a lack of protection for Tom Rogic may have led to the youngster being sent off in Central Coast's loss to Sydney FC.
Rogic was shown a straight red card for a lunging tackle on Sydney defender Rhyan Grant in the last minute of stoppage time as the Mariners were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at Allianz Stadium on Thursday.
The 20-year-old's dismissal came just two minutes after captain John Hutchinson was also sent off for two bookable offences, on what turned out to be a forgettable night for the A-League leaders.
The visitors looked like holding on for a well-earned draw until Socceroos midfielder Brett Emerton popped up with an 89th-minute winner for the lowly Sky Blues.
While Arnold was critical of his side's discipline and had no complaints about Hutchinson's sending off, he had doubts over the decision against Rogic.
"I thought he [referee Peter Green] showed Tommy a yellow first and then showed him a red... I don't know under whose influence that was," the Mariners boss said afterwards.
"Tommy took a few kicks over the 80 minutes and there was not a real lot of protection there for him.
"That was probably the frustrating thing for him there at the end.
"He probably got sick of getting kicked.
"I'm not disappointed with the performance just the discipline at the end."
And that ill-discipline will cost the Mariners for their next game against Perth with Rogic, Hutchinson and striker Daniel McBreen - who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season - all unavailable on New Year's Eve.
Veteran defender Patrick Zwaanswijk missed the clash with a groin injury, with Arnold confirming the Dutchman would be sidelined for up to two weeks.
Sydney FC coach Frank Farina, meanwhile, called for his side to bring the same fight and attitude to every match.
The Sky Blues got off life support and the bottom rung of the A-League table with the win.
Farina was proud and relieved after overseeing the win but now wants to see more of the same from his side.
"It was pleasing to get the result but more so the work ethic and the fighting out there," the Sky Blues coach said.
"It's what we've been asking for but we've got to be more consistent with it.
"We can't just do it one week then have two weeks off and do it again.
"We have to [maintain it]. They're professional footballers and I expect that, especially at this stage of the season.
"That's what I expect and that's what I want. We're going to put people in that will do it but everyone out there did that."