Birighitti: This is an unbelievable group
When Sam Silvera scored with 10 minutes left in the FFA Cup Round of 16 clash between Brisbane Roar and the Central Coast Mariners, it looked like the visitors were headed to the quarter-finals, only for Roy O’Donovan to level proceedings moments later with a spot-kick that left the teams tied after 90 minutes.
30 minutes of extra-time couldn’t separate the teams with chances at both ends, and the contest headed to a penalty shootout to decide who would go through to the final eight of the 2019 FFA Cup.
Matt Simon: scores, Aiden O’Neill, scores. Then Gianni Stensness, then Macaulay Gillesphey. Then Milan Duric with a confident spot-kick, and the Mariners went up 3-2.
Enter Mark Birighitti.
Roy O’Donovan struck his penalty well towards the bottom corner, but the gloveman was up to the task, diving to his left to keep out the spot-kick and when Jacob Melling fired his home moments later the Mariners were on the cusp of progress.
And Birighitti was up to the task again, diving low to deny Thomas Aldred and send the Mariners through to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2015.
Post-match the 28-year old praised his teammates for their performance across 120 minutes of cup action.
“The game kind of swung both ways,” Birighitti said. “We had our opportunities, Brisbane had their opportunities and going into extra-time it was never going to be easy.
“After 90 minutes that extra half hour kills the boys and I kind of had the feeling it was going to penalties, and so I was just happy I could play my part for the team and the boys in that dressing room.
Birighitti arrived on the Coast inside the past month and spoke of the connection within the group ahead of the new Hyundai A-League season.
“I’ve loved it here from day one and the result tonight speaks for itself, I’m so happy for the boys,” the goalkeeper said after the game.
“It’s one of the best groups I’ve worked with and I’m not just saying that for the sake of it.
“From day one they’ve welcomed me with open arms, and I enjoy going to training and having a laugh with these boys but at the same time working hard on the training pitch.
“I couldn’t be happier and prouder of this group and I’m proud to represent this club and play for this group,” Birighitti said.
FFA Cup Quarter-Final match details
Hume City v Central Coast Mariners
ABD Stadium, Broadmeadows (Victoria)
Tuesday, 17th September
Broadcast information will be released soon