The Westfield FFA Cup was launched last July to much fanfare and excitement, with the fledgling knockout competition allowing an opportunity for Australian football to not only connect with its grassroots but also its history.
Today we’re reflecting on our inaugural cup campaign in which we made it within a game of a dream Westfield FFA Cup Final.
Round of 32
The Mariners first taste of the Westfield FFA Cup was against former National Soccer League giants, South Coast Wolves (previously Wollongong Wolves) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong in August 2014. The Yellow and Navy triumphed 1-0 over the Illawarra-based club thanks to a 12th minute Glen Trifiro goal, although the hosts fought till the end and won plenty of respect on the night.
Round of 16
The win over the Wolves set up a clash in Brisbane against local club Olympic FC at the Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre. It could not have started more perfectly. Within two minutes, Nick Fitzgerald had scored from a header. Matt Sim doubled the lead towards the end of the half, with a strike from outside the box.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing however, as Olympic FC sniffed a comeback when they scored through Jake McLean in the second half. It led to a nervy finish before Glen Trifiro sealed our place in the Quarter Finals with his second Westfield FFA Cup goal in the 86th minute, ensuring a 3-1 win.
Another Queensland adventure was on the cards in the Quarter Finals, with the Mariners visiting Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast to take on the Palm Beach Sharks in October. Isaka Cernak opened the scoring, but the highlight of the night was a 20 minute, four goal blitz from Matt Sim, who had come on as a 71st minute substitute.
Sim’s haul set a record for the most goals in a competitive game for a Central Coast Mariners player, as the boys moved into the Semi Finals having buried the Sharks 5-0.
The Semi Final stage of the Westfield FFA Cup saw us pitted against our first Hyundai A-League opponent of the tournament, visiting Coopers Stadium to take on Adelaide United in mid-November.
The Reds went into the half with a 2-0 lead thanks to Sergio Cirio and Awer Mabil. In the second, we were able to reduce the deficit through Matt Simon, but the eventual Westfield FFA Cup Champions came through in the end, with Cirio’s second in the 88th minute icing the game. Josh Rose scored a late consolation in injury time to see the scores finish up 3-2 in the Reds’ favour.
With a new year comes the dream of the Cup again, and the Mariners will be all-in as they kick off the 2015 edition over the coming months. Within the next few weeks we should find out where, when and who we will play in the Round of 32 of the 2015 Westfield FFA Cup.