A huge #F3Derby beckons at Central Coast Stadium on Tuesday night, with Matt Simon and the Mariners on the brink of securing finals for the first time since 2013-14, and the Mariners stalwart said the team are aware of just how much this game means to the fans.
Last Thursday’s win against Macarthur took the team to within a point of locking in a top six spot, but Simon said on Monday that the focus is purely on the game ahead against their traditional rivals.
“It’s that time of year where the finals positions are getting cemented but we’re just concentrating on the game,” he said.
“It’s obviously a huge game for us, another derby at home, we want to put on a great performance for the fans.”
The Mariners and Jets have met twice this season, a 1-0 victory at home on New Years Eve kicking off the season, before Simon’s penalty was the difference just a couple of weeks ago when the two teams faced off in Newcastle.
The Jets remain in last place on the table with 14 points, with three games still to play after their weekend clash with Melbourne City was postponed due to the COVID-19 situation in Victoria.
After a tough battle in the second matchup against the Jets, Simon stressed that Tuesday night’s match would be no easy contest.
“They’ve had a difficult season but as we know in derby matches the form guide goes out the window,” he said.
“They’re going to be coming here and fighting for their lives, they want to do everything they can to get off the bottom of the table and obviously being a derby, they want to get a win for their fans.”
“I think it’s been one of the better derbies in the A-League, the past players understand what it means, and the current players also understand what it means for the fans and what it’s like to get three points for them.”
Asked about Thursday’s win over the Bulls, the Mariners third victory over them this season, the Mariners leading scorer this season said the strong performance was a sign of where the team is at now, relative to where they were not all that long ago.
“I think that just shows where we’re at and how far we have come this season,” he said.
“To go to Macarthur level on points, with finals positions up for grabs and put in a performance like that and come away with the three points just shows the character of the team this year and how much hard work we have put in.”
“The score line, I think it could have been even more so to put in a performance like that away from home, midweek, short turnaround, to come away with those three points is absolutely huge for the boys.