McBreen magic seals Grand Final spot

A STUNNING 42nd minute strike by the competition’s Golden Boot winner Daniel McBreen ensured Central Coast Mariners earned the right to fight for the Hyundai A-League Championship at Allianz Stadium against Western Sydney Wanderers next Sunday.

A STUNNING 42nd minute strike by the competition-s Golden Boot winner Daniel McBreen ensured Central Coast Mariners earned the right to fight for the Hyundai A-League Championship at Allianz Stadium against Western Sydney Wanderers next Sunday.

The Mariners prevailed 1-0 over Ange Postecoglou-s Melbourne Victory side at Gosford-s Bluetongue Stadium, and although the scoreline suggests a tight contest at the Club-s idyllic bayside base, in truth the Mariners largely dominated the duel.

Post match Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold labelled his outfit-s structured display as “outstanding”, noting his team-s accomplishment had come made against a strong Victory side.

“I thought overall it was a fantastic game of football,” Arnold said. “It-s nice to beat Victory when they-re at their best.”

“Our performance tonight was outstanding. We left those seven players behind (from the team-s midweek AFC Champions League trip to China) with the idea of this game, and the seven of them stepped up big time and put in the performance that we were hoping for.”

“Tactically the boys carried out the game plan perfectly.”

Central Coast enjoyed the greater share of possession and weight of chances in the first 45, and were it not for some solid ‘keeping from Nathan Coe combined with some last ditch defending, the Mariners may well have been up by more than a solitary goal at the break.

Striker Mile Sterjovski sent a left foot strike across the face of goal 14 minutes in which Coe claimed, before Bernie Ibini-s left foot effort four minutes later deflected off a Melbourne defender and kindly into the path of the former SønderjyskE man.

McBreen flashed an effort on the angle past the post on 26 minutes, while the same player thundered a fierce goal-bound shot into the head of Victory captain Adrian Leijer on the half hour.

Victory failed to seriously trouble Mariners number one Mathew Ryan in the first half, and McBreen made the home team-s dominance pay just three minutes before the interval. After Ibini wriggled his way past a few defenders centrally, McBreen picked up a pass from the Australian youth international before thundering a powerful drive beyond Coe.

After the interval Melbourne attacker and Qantas Socceroos regular Archie Thompson scuffed a shot at Ryan 60 minutes in, while Mariner Mitchell Duke blasted a shot from the edge of the area just wide for the Mariners ten minutes later.

Patrick Zwaanswijk lifted a long-range effort over the bar, while a well-positioned Central Coast Mariners defensive wall stopped any chance a late Marco Rojas free kick had to level proceedings.

Unfortunately for Central Coast, midfielder Nick Montgomery received his second yellow card of the match in time added on, meaning he will miss the Club-s fourth Grand Final appearance in just eight Hyundai A-League seasons.

Montgomery was understandably upset following the conclusion of the game, and while Arnold admitted the former Sheffield United man would be missed in the Grand Final, he said he had faith in the ability of the players he has to replace him in his team-s engine room.

“Monty (Montgomery) is a big loss,” he said. “But (Youssouf) Hersi is suspended as well so that-s one each.”

“Luckily I-ve got some good players in Oli Bozanic as well as Anthony Caceres that can come in in that role.”

Arnold said defeating Tony Popovic-s Western Sydney Wanderers would be a tough task for his side, but his boys would enter the contest well prepared.

“Western Sydney Wanderers are going to be a huge challenge for us. We-re going to have to be at the top of our game and no doubt Tony is taking down his notes with Ante Milicic and will look at the video of us.”

“We will work on what our strengths are and we-ll worry about ourselves and we-ll try and nullify Western Sydney-s strengths.”

Central Coast Mariners 1 (McBreen 42-) Melbourne Victory 0 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

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, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Nick MONTGOMERY, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (19. Mitchell DUKE 62-) Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 29. Nick FITZGERALD Yellow cards: Montgomery x 2 Red cards: Montgomery

Melbourne Victory: 39. Nathan COE (Gk), 5. Mark MILLIGAN, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 9. Marcos FLORES (32. Connor PAIN 68-), 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. Marco ROJAS, 14. Billy CELESKI (21. Spase DILEVSKI 84-), 23. Adrian LEIJER, 30. Jason GERIA, 31. Scott GALLOWAY, 33. Daniel MULLEN (26. Andrew NABBOUT 76-) Substitutes not used: 1. Tando VELAPHI (Gk), 24. Nicholas ANSELL Yellow cards: Milligan, Galloway, Broxham, Leijer Red cards: Nil

Attendance: 10,651 Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI