Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe insists it was the right decision to substitute Adam Taggart and import Diego Castro despite watching his A-League team crash to a 3-3 draw with Central Coast at nib Stadium.
Glory were cruising at 3-0 up at half-time following a brace from Taggart and a 35th-minute penalty to Castro on Saturday.
Taggart, who had endured two injury-plagued years in Europe before sustaining an ankle issue during the preseason, was subbed off in the 63rd minute with Perth still holding a commanding 3-1 lead.
Glory had a two-goal lead when Castro exited the game in the 78th minute.
But from there the wheels fell off in dramatic fashion.
A bizarre own goal from Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy in the 84th minute ensured for a nervy finish, and the Mariners snatched a point when Roy O'Donovan converted a penalty in the 86th.
Reddy's own goal occurred when the ball cannoned into him and back into the net after an attempted goal-line clearance from defender Marc Warren.
Lowe admitted his side switched off mentally in the second half, and that his players didn't respect the game enough.
But he said it was the right call to substitute Taggart and Castro.
"[Taggart] has been out [injured for] two years," Lowe said.
"We've got to look after him to a certain extent, and the same with Diego.
"[Those substitutions] were both cast in stone before we went out for the game. That's where they are physically.
"I'd sooner have Taggs for 27 games than something happens and we don't have him for another six or seven, and he's back to square one.
"There's a bigger picture. We've got a moral obligation to the kid."
Central Coast were tipped by many experts to finish with the wooden spoon for the second season on the trot.
Coach Paul Okon, who only replaced the sacked Tony Walmsley at the end of August, thinks otherwise.
"There's a lot of pride within the four walls of that dressing room," Okon said.
"There's a winning mentality. There is a culture, which has been questioned in the last few days by the experts.
"One result doesn't make our season. But it's a platform for us to build on and improve."
Central Coast were lucky not to concede more goals in the second half, and Okon is well aware it's an area he needs to fix.
Recruit Jacques Faty looked underdone and committed a host of errors in defence before being subbed off at half-time.
The Mariners will receive another stern test when they take on Sydney FC on Saturday night.
The Sky Blues enter the match full of confidence following their 4-0 demolition of the Western Sydney Wanderers.