Knockout Mariners secure Boxing Day triumph
The Central Coast Mariners delivered the result that matters most to their Members and supporters at EnergyAustralia Stadium last night – a precious 2-1 derby triumph over the Newcastle Jets that propelled the visitors to top spot in the Hyundai A-League, albeit temporarily.
The Central Coast Mariners delivered the result that matters most to their Members and supporters at EnergyAustralia Stadium last night - a precious 2-1 derby triumph over the Newcastle Jets that propelled the visitors to top spot in the Hyundai A-League, albeit temporarily.
Sasho Petrovski and Matt Simon netted their sixth and ninth strikes of the season respectively to overturn Joel Griffiths- effort from the penalty spot and secure the yellow and navy their second F3 derby triumph of the campaign and their first ever regular season win at the home of their northern rivals.
Less convincing than they have been throughout their Premiership defence, the Mariners were more workmanlike than debonair against their fiercest rivals but ultimately deserving winners on a steaming night in the Hunter.
The Mariners- sixth win of the season saw them occupy first place on the Hyundai A-League table for the first time in 2008/09, only for Adelaide United to reclaim their top billing later in the evening with a 1-0 win over the Perth Glory.
None-the-less, the three points gathered by the Mariners from their second trip of the season to EnergyAustralia Stadium is crucial to the Finals Series ambitions of the yellow and navy and potentially detrimental to those of the Jets.
"We gave away a soft penalty, but came back in the second half with a good performance and we were unlucky not to go further ahead, which was fantastic," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna after the match.
"Their first goal took the wind out of us and they were competing with us all over the park - they were first to every ball and challenging for every ball and we weren-t.
"The second half we slowly came into it, Matt Simon came on and was lively, Adrian Caceres came on and the game opened up and we could have scored a couple more goals."
Not unlike their clash against the Wellington Phoenix the Friday previous, the Mariners were slow to start against the Jets were punished with just nine minutes on the clock.
After a tangle between Mariners midfield ace Andre Gumprecht and Newcastle livewire Marko Jesic on the border of the penalty area, referee Peter O-Leary ruled in favour of the home side and pointed to the penalty spot.
In a virtual replay of his opening day effort from the same position, Joel Griffiths made no mistake and gifted his side an early advantage that they would hang onto until the break.
The remainder of the first half was a largely cagey affair that was highlighted by Danny Vukovic-s telling double save against Matthew Thompson and then goal scorer Griffiths - a moment that would ultimately prove vital to the Mariners- success.
In his 100th competitive fixture in Mariners colours, captain Alex Wilkinson was key to steadying the Mariners- ship and one of his fellow defenders, Dean Heffernan, provided the spark for the Central Coast-s equaliser.
On a fleeting advance forward, Heffernan crossed precisely for Petrovski who made no mistake with a close range header - the swift attacking movement just reward for Petrovski-s tireless endeavour up front throughout the match.
Simon and Adrian Caceres were introduced from the bench either side of the Mariners- equaliser and added the necessary imputes in the final third to secure the visitors one of their most memorable results of the campaign.
Simon-s match winner was one that showcased the strength, agility and poise of a marksman in career best form - his goal setting a new club record for goals scored by an individual in a Hyundai A-League regular season.
The Olympian and standout local product negotiated the challenge of two Jets defenders after receiving a quick free kick from strike partner Petrovski and neatly dispatched his calm right-footed effort past Jets goalkeeper Ante Covic.
Simon will miss the Mariners- next match through suspension after receiving a yellow card as a result of a post-match melee between the two camps that also saw Dylan Macallister dismissed and, subsequently, also suspended from Wednesday-s New Year-s Eve clash.
"We just need to make sure that we don-t give away goals in the first ten minutes, everyone goes on about us being able to come back, but I-d rather we get the first goal and hold onto a game - that-s bad for your heart out there," said McKinna.
"Everybody has the capability to knock someone else off, we just need to concentrate on what we-re doing and get back to our winning ways."
The Mariners return to their Bluetongue Stadium home on Wednesday, 31 December - New Year-s Eve - for the showpiece of their annual summer holiday extravaganza, which will culminate with a Hyundai A-League fixture against the Perth Glory. Kick off is at 6pm.
Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.
For more information regarding the Gosford waterfront New Year-s Eve festival, visit www.gosfordnye.com.au.
Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 2. Andre Gumprecht (19. Matt Simon 52-), 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Dean Heffernan (15. Andrew Clark 80-), 11. Dylan Macallister, 17. Matthew Osman, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 22. Sasho Petrovski, 23. Mile Jedinak (10. Adrian Caceres 67-)
Unused Subs 30. Andrew Redmayne (gk)
Yellow Cards Petrovski 43-, Simon 90-+4 Red Cards Macallister 90-+4 Goals Petrovski 66-, Simon 79-
Newcastle Jets 1. Ante Covic (gk), 2. Adam Griffiths, 3. Jade North, 8. Matthew Thompson, 9. Joel Griffiths, 10. Jin-Hyung Song, 11. Tarek Elrich, 13. Adam D-Apuzzo (29. Sean Rooney 75-), 16. Ben Kantarovski, 24. Marko Jesic (12. Jobe Wheelhouse 20-), 26. Mark Milligan (5. James Holland 75-)
Unused Subs 30. Justin Pasfield (gk)
Yellow Cards Adam Griffiths 7- Red Cards None Goals Joel Griffiths 9-P
Referee Peter O-Leary Crowd 11,413