Simon set to strike in Finals

All that’s missing from Matt Simon’s outstanding breakthrough Hyundai A-League season is a Championship medal – a quest that will begin in earnest when the Central Coast Mariners’ third Finals Series campaign begins at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday.

All that-s missing from Matt Simon-s outstanding breakthrough Hyundai A-League season is a Championship medal - a quest that will begin in earnest when the Central Coast Mariners- third Finals Series campaign begins at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday.

Perhaps the greatest underdog story to emerge from the Mariners since the club-s inception, local product Simon is already able to reflect on an amazing season that has seen the former Wyoming and East Gosford junior rise from Australia-s sixth-tier competition to the Socceroos in the space of three years.

On Friday night, Simon will get another chance to showcase the quality that has earned him a place amongst the Hyundai A-League-s top marksmen and further add to a goal-scoring tally that has already smashed club records.

"It-s going to be tough, last year we had a double chance to qualify for the Grand Final and we didn-t need to take it, but I-m sure the boys can do it this year," said Simon.

"Queensland at home first is going to be tough and, especially going to Suncorp Stadium as well, but hopefully we can get over that hurdle first and play either Adelaide or Melbourne in the Preliminary Final.

"It-s absolutely huge that we get a positive result at home, if we get a good result on Friday and then score one goal up there, things can go our way, hopefully we can get off to a good start and then take it to the next level up at Suncorp Stadium."

Having claimed the Mariners- Golden Boot prize as a result of his record eleven-goal haul throughout the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 regular season, Simon has set his sights on more strikes in the Finals Series, starting against the Roar on Friday night.

Simon-s eleven goals from 16 starts and three substitute appearances easily surpassed the Mariners- previous best regular season tally of eight goals - set by former marksman Stewart Petrie in 2005/06.

Capped at Qantas Socceroo level for the first time last Wednesday night in Jakarta, Simon-s astonishing season four record has erased the memory of his luckless rookie campaign with his hometown club, which failed to yield a single goal from 20 Hyundai A-League appearances.

Simon may well hold the key to a Mariners win over the Roar on Friday, having scored three of the Mariners- eight goals against their Queensland counterparts this season.

"Jakarta was amazing - to go over there as part of the squad and then to actually make my debut was very special," said Simon.

"I-m very happy with how the season has gone and hopefully we as a team can pick ourselves up going into the Finals Series and go that one step further.

"It-s going to be hard against Queensland, they-ve chosen to play at Bluetongue Stadium first so they-ll be coming to get a good result, they-re our bogey team at home but we-ll be definitely out to try and turn that around."

The Mariners- third Finals Series campaign will begin with a blockbuster clash against the Queensland Roar in the Minor Semi Final - 1st Leg at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday, 6 February. Kick off is at 8pm.

Tickets for this match are available from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.