Central Coast Mariners are the first team through to the semi-finals of the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup after Phil Moss’s men defeated Queensland’s Palm Beach Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on Tuesday evening.Isaka Cernak’s thumping 28th minute strike after delicious combination play between Anthony Caceres, Glen Trifiro and Richi Vernes put the Mariners ahead, but it was 71st minute substitute Matt Sim who stole the show in the final 20 minutes of the game as he fired home an incredible four goals to lift the yellow and navy to a 5-0 win.
Sim scored with his first touch in the 72nd minute when he tapped home after Palm Beach custodian Shane Vitakangas fumbled Trifiro’s strike on goal.
Three minutes later Trifiro, who was influential for the Mariners throughout the match, slipped an accurate pass through for Sim who made no mistake in speeding into the area and clipping a low shot beyond Vitakangas.
Just as it seemed the game would end 3-0, Sim popped up to bag a further two goals late on to take his tally in the Westfield FFA Cup 2014 to five.
In the 90th minute, Sim buried the ball into the back of the net from close range after the Sharks stopper dropped Nick Fitzgerald’s effort on goal.
Then in time added on, Sim latched on to Hayden Morton’s through ball before showing a slick pair of heels to dance around two would-be Palm Beach defenders and round out the scoring with a right foot rocket.
The former Manly United utility was understandably delighted with his efforts from the pine post match – he became just the third Mariner in the Club’s history to net a hat-trick in a competitive fixture, and the first ever to score four in a game of substantial significance.
“We had a good game tonight I think as a team and to come on and score goals is always good, and to get four is even better,” Sim said.
“I knew if I was to come on that the game would open up because they [Palm Beach Sharks] would have to push for a goal. That happened and there was lots of space for me in midfield, and for Tricky [Glen Trifiro] and Cass [Anthony Caceres]. A couple of goals I followed up and I got lucky on those ones, but the other ones were good balls and good build up play from the boys as well,” he said.
Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Phil Moss was satisfied with the professional effort of his charges on the Gold Coast.
“I thought we played well tonight in large patches which is nice to say,” Moss said. “We had a lot of possession, but it’s only effective possession if you score goals on the end of it and we have a few to show for it tonight.”
“We had to be patient, we had to move the ball side to side and then play through the lines when we had the opportunity, so overall I am very happy.”
Moss praised Sim on his slice of Westfield FFA Cup history – he the became the he first player to score four goals in a single Cup match.
“You always hope that your subs can give you an impact and I think he [Sim] gave that and then some tonight. It’s a reward for all his hard work, he stepped up form the state league last season but he’s certainly not regarded as a state league player anymore, he’s truly arrived as an A-League player and I thought what he did tonight was just reward for all his hard work.”
Central Coast Mariners will be back in action this weekend when the Club hosts Wellington Phoenix in Hyundai A-League round 2 at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford. Kick-off this Saturday is at 5:00pm, with the Mariners playing in all pink kits in support of Pink Ribbon Day.
Palm Beach Sharks 0
Central Coast Mariners 5 (Cernak 28’, Sim 72’, 75’, 90’, 90+2’)
Cbus Super Stadium, Robina
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Central Coast Mariners: 4. Richard VERNES (29. Matthew SIM 71’), 5. Zac ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 13. Hayden MORTON, 17. Anthony CACERES, 18. Michael NEILL, 25. Eddy BOSNAR, 27. Isaka CERNAK (22. Tom SLATER 85’), 28. Glen TRIFIRO (20. Anthony KALIK 81’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Beyhan IRMAKO (Gk), 33. Josh BINGHAM
Yellow cards: Sim
Red cards: Nil
Palm Beach Sharks: 1. Shane VITAKANGAS (Gk), 2. Riley DILLON, 7. Justyn MCKAY (C), 9. Christopher LUCAS, 11. Nikola MIRKOVIC (12. Daniel GRZIC 81’), 15. Eoghan MURPHY, 16. Jack BOXELL (3. Jordan MASON 65’), 17. Kristian REES, 18. Troy RUTHVEN, 19. Daniel DRAGICEVIC (14. Jonathon CAMILLERI 26’), 23. Karl DODD
Substitutes not used: 4. Ethan GRIMLEY, 20. Jack LITTLEJOHN (Gk)
Yellow cards: Rees, Grzic
Red cards: Nil