CHAMPIONS!!!

CENTRAL Coast Mariners are the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Champions, with Graham Arnold’s side recording a 2-0 triumph over Western Sydney Wanderers at a boisterous Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners are the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Champions, with Graham Arnold-s side recording a 2-0 triumph over Western Sydney Wanderers at a boisterous Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Defender Patrick Zwaanswijk-s 44th minute goal combined with Daniel McBreen-s second half penalty ensured the Mariners claimed their first Hyundai A-League Championship, and guaranteed the group of players Arnold and co have carefully worked with over the past few seasons carved their name in Club and Australian football folklore.

Dutchman Zwaanswijk connected purposefully with an inviting Michael McGlinchey corner just a couple of minutes before half time. His headed effort in front of the yellow and navy clad end of Central Coast Mariners aficionados at Allianz Stadium put the Mariners one up before the interval.

Midway through the second stanza the hardworking McBreen-s toil in the box was rewarded when referee Peter Green spotted a handball by Wanderers- German right back Jerome Polenz. Green awarded a penalty, with McBreen himself stepping up to send Ante Covic the wrong way to extend the Coast-s advantage.

Arnold-s team dominated the first 45 and perhaps could have been up by more than one goal at the break. However a well-structured second half performance combined with McBreen-s 19th goal of an unforgettable campaign ensured the finest day in Club history.

Central Coast Mariners- structured, yet fluid possession-based game helped the yellow and navy create the better of the opportunities in an action packed first 45.

Indeed, it took Arnold-s men just five minutes to craft their first chance of the contest with Bernie Ibini sending a shot over the crossbar following a smart cutback by right defender Pedj Bojic.

Just four minutes later the Mariners nearly took the lead. Cruising in on goal following an incisive pass from defence by Trent Sainsbury, Mile Sterjovski attempted to lob Covic from just inside the box. While Sterjovski-s shot flew beyond his former Qantas Socceroos team mate, it also struck the upper side of the crossbar resulting in a Wanderers goal kick.

Just before the 20 minute mark the Mariners were reminded of just how dangerous Western Sydney can be in transition. Following a Central Coast corner, Wanderers broke swiftly with Mark Bridge afforded too much time to attack down the left. Bridge-s cross into the box went within a whisker of a storming Dino Kresinger.

Ten minutes later Central Coast nearly netted the opening goal of the contest. McBreen sent Rockhampton-born flyer Joshua Rose into space down the left, before the 2010/11 Mariners Medal winner fired a great cross into the six-yard box. A sliding Ibini just failed to connect with Rose-s inviting centre.

The Mariners- first half dominance finally paid dividends shortly before half time. Central Coast-s set pieces had looked dangerous throughout the first 45 and McGlinchey-s in-swinging corner was met strongly by Zwaanswijk who made no mistake in guiding the ball beyond Covic.

Wanderers began the second half brightly perhaps inspired by the words of Tony Popovic in the sheds. However, the Mariners defence was proving to be stiff to break down on the day, with Sainsbury, Zwaanswijk, Rose and Bojic marshalling the threats of Wanderers attackers well.

And while Sterjovski nearly scored a stunning second for Central Coast in the 63rd minute when he rifled a right foot shot just over the bar, McBreen would double his team-s advantage with 22 minutes remaining.

After some persistent work in the box, the ball struck the arm of Polenz with Green pointing to the spot. Stepping up to take the penalty he had helped win, McBreen fired a confident spot-kick into the back of the net in front of the Red and Black Bloc.

From there on in Arnold-s outfit knew they need only remain composed and structured to claim their maiden Hyundai A-League Championship. And while Japanese great Shinji Ono had a chance from a set-piece, the Premiership winners rarely threatened Mathew Ryan-s goal.

At the end of three minutes of additional time, referee Green-s final whistle was met by wild celebrations by the Mariners players, staff, and importantly fans. The title the Central Coast people have long craved had been won by a group of men whose mateship and camaraderie knows no bounds.

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Zwaanswijk 44-, McBreen 68-) Western Sydney Wanderers 0 Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 14. Michael McGlinchey (29. Nick Fitzgerald 88'), 16. Trent Sainsbury, 21. Mile Sterjovski (19. Mitchell Duke 73-) Substitutes not used: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 5. Zachary Anderson, 17. Anthony Caceres Yellow cards: McGlinchey, McBreen Red cards: Nil

Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Ante Covic (Gk), 2. Shannon Cole, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley 5. Michael Beauchamp (c), 6. Jerome Polenz (16. Rocco Visconte 77-), 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Dino Kresinger (7. Labinot Haliti 67-), 10. Aaron Mooy, 14. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi (11. Tarek Elrich 71-), 19. Mark Bridge, 21. Shinji Ono Substitutes not used: 23. Jason Trifiro, 30. Carlos Saliadarre (Gk) Yellow cards: Nil Red cards: Nil

Referee: Peter Green Attendance: 42,102