Central Coast Mariners’ 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season came to an end on Saturday evening, with Phil Moss’s men suffering a 2-0 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2014 Grand Final Qualifier.
Central Coast Mariners- 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season came to an end on Saturday evening, with Phil Moss-s men suffering a 2-0 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2014 Grand Final Qualifier.
Goals to Dutchman Youssouf Hersi and Italian midfielder Iacopo La Rocca ensured Tony Popovic-s team advanced to the Hyundai A-League-s decider at the Mariners- expense, and brought to a close what was a remarkable, eventful, and yet ultimately successful campaign for a Club for much of the season in a rebuilding phase.
With the Mariners having only arrived back in Australia 36 hours prior to kick-off in Parramatta from their mid-week exertions in the AFC Champions League in Japan, it was always going to be a tall order for Moss-s men to topple a Wanderers side brimming with talent and playing at their raucous home base of Pirtek Stadium.
Yet Moss refused to make any excuses for the loss in his post-match press conference, instead opting to commend his men on their commitment to the cause and the Club throughout season nine of Australia-s top flight, and congratulate the Wanderers.
“We always expected it to be tough, particularly given the week that we-ve had,” Moss said. “But I am just so proud of my players, the intensity and the energy that they put into this game considering what they have been through was just first class. I-ve got nothing but pride.”
“I was happy with the energy tonight, I was happy with the faces at lunch today and pre-match, they looked fresh and ready to play, and I think our performance showed that.”
“Of course there-s a large part of me that-s so disappointed with the result and the fact that we-ve fallen a game short of defending our title but I can-t speak highly enough of my players. I wish Poppa [Tony Popovic] and Western Sydney all the best, they deserved to go through tonight, they-ve had a settled team this year.”
“It-s a shame that we couldn-t go one step further for someone like [now retired attacker] Mile Sterjovski, I-ve got nothing but superlatives for that guy. He-s a consummate professional, he-s had an unbelievable career, he-s such a humble guy and he-s been such a massive part of our dressing room, so we wanted to go one step further for him but we fell short.”
Although Wanderers managed to net in the 31st and 81st minutes through Hersi and La Rocca respectively, and create a number of other openings throughout the game, Central Coast didn-t go throughout the match minus opportunities to score themselves.
Indeed, the yellow and navy showed plenty of enthusiasm and endeavour to try and break down the Wanderers, with Mitchell Duke, Bernie Ibini, Josh Rose, Eddy Bosnar and Kim Seung-yong all asking questions of the red-and-blacks in the final third.
And while it wasn-t to be for the Mariners in Hyundai A-League season nine, Moss believes a positive future exists for the Club on and off the field.
“I said to someone the other day that our transfer market was done and dusted in January - we had enough player turnover in one month to last us a couple of years,” he said. “I am pretty happy with the nucleus that we-ve got and we-re pretty settled for next year which is a big thing because we-ve had a massive five months with five new additions in January and obviously my first year as Head Coach.”
“I only see bright days ahead … there-s a lot of positives to come out of this season,” Moss said.
After a few deserved days off, Central Coast Mariners will return to training throughout May. The squad will then go on annual leave throughout June, before the team of 2014/15 reconvenes to commence preparations for season 10 of the Hyundai A-League.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Hersi 31-, La Rocca 81-) Central Coast Mariners 0 Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: 1. Ante COVIC (Gk), 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6. Jerome POLENZ, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 11. Brendon SANTALAB (9. Tomi JURIC 70-), 13. Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 17. Youssouf HERSI, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 19. Mark BRIDGE (7. Labinot HALITI 62-), 21. Shinji ONO (10. Aaron MOOY 87-) Substitutes not used: 2. Shannon COLE, 20. Jerrad TYSON (Gk) Yellow cards: Topor-Stanley, Ono, La Rocca Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE (21. Mile STERJOVSKI 84-), 11. Nick FITZGERALD (26. KIM Seung-yong 69-), 15. Storm ROUX, 17. Anthony CACERES (19. Matt SIMON 80-), 20. Bernie IBINI, 25. Eddy BOSNAR Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 28. Glen TRIFIRO Yellow cards: Bosnar, Kim Red cards: Nil
Attendance: 19.216 Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones