The Central Coast Mariners NPL2 Men’s side progressed to the 2020 Grand Final as two second half goals led them to victory at Pluim Park.
Sunday’s 2-1 win over Bonnyrigg had some sense of déjà vu about it, with the two sides having met to decide the Premiership just a week ago at the same venue.
Desperate for revenge and a place in the Grand Final, Bonnyrigg took the lead just ten minutes into the second half with a long-range strike that found the bottom corner of the net.
But the Mariners responded brilliantly just two minutes later in the 57th minute with a headed goal from Alou Kuol to level the scores.
With momentum now behind the hosts, the go-ahead goal was scored in the 67th minute by Max Balard following a goalmouth scramble, which secured a place in the Grand Final for Nick Montgomery’s team.
“I’m delighted for the boys”, Montgomery said post-match.
“They’ve put a lot of hard work in to win the league last week, and nothing comes unless you work for it and today, we were the better team.”
The Mariners were the highest scoring team in the NPL2 competition, so understandably Monty had some tough choices to make up top for this game.
He opted for Kuol, who broke into Alen Stajcic’s A-League earlier this year.
“He’s been building ever since he came back from the A-League”, Montgomery said.
“It’s been a big year for the boy, he’s gone from playing in Shepparton in Victoria to playing in the A-League.
“He’s a diamond of a kid and I thought today he deserved his goal. He was physical and showed fantastic technical ability too”.
The semi-final win sets up a thrilling Grand Final on Saturday, where Montgomery’s Mariners will take on the Northern Tigers at Valentine Sports Park.
1st Grade: Central Coast Mariners 2 (Alou Kuol 57’, Max Balard 67’) def. Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Jack Armson 55’)
U20’s: Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ruben Awaritefe) def. Bonnyrigg White Eagles 0