Central Coast Mariners have advanced to the last eight of the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup following a 3-1 win over Queensland NPL outfit Olympic FC in Nathan on Tuesday evening.Nick Fitzgerald’s early goal following strong work by energetic left side utility Matt Sim, plus a terrific strike by Sim himself in the 38th minute, and a late goal by Glen Trifiro ensured that the Mariners progressed to the quarterfinals of Australia’s freshly founded, yet already much loved cut-throat Cup competition at the expense of their rivals from the sunshine state.
Jacob Mclean scored for the hosts in the 57th minute when he did well to slot the ball past Liam Reddy, though the Olympic FC man’s third goal in just two Westfield FFA Cup appearances wasn’t enough to propel his side to the next phase of the competition.
Phil Moss’s men started the game brightly against Jim Bellas’ charges, and it took only two minutes for Fitzgerald’s quality to tell at QSAC. After Sim played a precise cross from the left side to the far post, Fitzgerald nodded past Shannon Lancini to put the away side ahead.
Central Coast could have a two-goal lead just two minutes later, however Eddy Bosnar’s header from a set piece was cleared off the line by some last ditch Olympic FC defending.
The yellow and navy were looking sharp in attack and after a number of near misses – and some stellar goalkeeping by Olympic’s Lancini – the Mariners doubled their advantage shortly before half time. Sim latched on to a nod on by dynamic striker Mitchell Duke before sending a crisp strike on the angle beyond Lancini.
Central Coast began the second stanza dominantly however failed to make the most of their chances soon after the break. Mclean, who netted twice in Olympic’s first Westfield FFA Cup encounter against Melbourne Knights in August, placed a great shot beyond Reddy with just over 30 minutes remaining to pull his side back into the contest.
While Olympic FC battled bravely to restore parity to the encounter, it was unfortunately for them an error from their otherwise outstanding goalkeeper on the night, Lancini, which helped the Mariners seal their progression to the last eight of the Westfield FFA Cup. In the 86th minute, Lancini slipped while attempting to clear his lines, and after some quick thinking by Duke to collect and pass the loose ball, Trifiro capitalised to make the score then, and at full time, 3-1.
Post match, Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Phil Moss praised his side for remaining unbeaten this Hyundai A-League pre-season, however said that his team must not let their standards slip at any point, against any opposition, in any competition.
“Overall I was happy with a lot of the things that we did in the first half – our defensive structure was good, we created some great chances, and we scored two fantastic goals,” Moss said.
“But we let the tempo and intensity slip out of the game in the second half a little, which was disappointing. The only positive of that is that the game became somewhat more of a physical challenge for us, which made our players have to work that little bit harder to secure the win.”
“We drive our own standards and no matter who we are playing against it is about us. We must not let our tempo or standards drop, so they’re things that we will need to address before the start of the season,” he said.
Moss also took time to praise the busy Sim for his efforts on the night.
“We’re starting to see Matt Sim truly make the jump from state league level to Hyundai A-League level,” he said. “I think the fact that he has had a full pre-season with us is starting to bear fruit, and his versatility and energy is a great asset to the team. He is certainly heading in the right direction to have a big involvement in the team this season,” Moss concluded.
The Mariners will return to the Central Coast on Wednesday, before venturing to Mudgee in western NSW on Friday. The yellow and navy will take on Newcastle Jets in a friendly at Glen Willow Sporting Complex on Saturday 20 September, with kick-off at 4:00pm. The game will be streamed live at www.CCMariners.com.au.
Olympic FC 1 (Mclean 57’)
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Fitzgerald 2’, Sim 38’, Trifiro 86’)
QSAC, Nathan, Queensland
Referee: Chris Beath
Central Coast Mariners FC: 2. Storm Roux, 3. Josh Rose, 5. Zac Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (C), 9. Mitchell Duke, 11. Nick Fitzgerald (28. Glen Trifiro 63’), 12. Liam Reddy (Gk), 17. Anthony Caceres, 25. Eddy Bosnar, 27. Isaka Cernak, 29. Matthew Sim (33. Josh Bingham 89’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Beyhan Irmako (Gk), 10. Nic Petrillo, 16. Liam Rose
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Olympic FC: 4. Matthew Byrne (3. James Cuminao 16’), 5. Kazuya Ito, 6. Matthew Mundy, 7. Daniel Crack, 9. Tim Smits, 10. Daniel Byrne, 11. Reuben Way, 13. Darren Gray (17. Luke Howell 35’), 15. Mark Fisk, 18. Jacob Mclean, 20. Shannon Lancini (Gk)
Substitutes not used: 1. Brandon Cuminao (Gk), 16. Mustafa Jafari, 19. Nicholas Efstathis
Yellow cards: Mundy, Mclean
Red cards: Nil