Simon’s Fairytale Finale as Mariners down Victory

A Matt Simon brace, which included a goal within the first twenty seconds of the match has seen the Central Coast Mariners down the Melbourne Victory 2-nil at Bluetongue Stadium this evening.

A Matt Simon brace, which included a goal within the first twenty seconds of the match has seen the Central Coast Mariners down the Melbourne Victory 2-nil at Bluetongue Stadium this evening. As part of the ‘Big Wednesday- extravaganza Graham Arnold-s charges have extended their unbeaten streak to eleven matches, and continued their imposing home record. Billed as a historic match, the Mariners and the Victory played an enterprising match that showcased the skills and talents of the players in Hyundai A-League Season Seven.

The scene was set for an emotional and historical evening at the Mariners- idyllic bayside home of Bluetongue Stadium with club stalwart and former East Gosford player making his final appearance for the club.

If that wasn-t enough popular midfielder John Hutchinson was making his 300th Australian National League appearance, fullback Pedj Bojic continues to impress with durability making his 200th professional appearance, while Troy Hearfield rounded out an evening of milestones earning his first start of the season in his 100th Hyundai A-League match.

Displaying the growing knowledge and appreciation of Australia-s football history by Central Coast football fans the achievements of the late former Socceroo captain Murray Barnes were warmly recognised by the crowd, as they have been at venues across Australia during today-s Big Wednesday of clashes.

Boosted by what can only be described as an electric atmosphere, the home side got off to the best possible start through the boot of who else but man of the moment Matt Simon. A grand total of 18 seconds had elapsed by the time the dynamic marksman thundered a shot into the back of the net.

A slip in defence from Petar Franjic allowed first Josh Rose and Troy Hearfield to combine with the latter delivering a perfect ball for Simon to slot home for the 35th time in the Yellow and Navy strip he loves so much.

Not content with their brilliant start the home side continued to press forward, with both Josh Rose and Daniel McBreen having early chances to double the advantage.

The visitor-s first chance came on ten minutes from the boot of Carlos Hernandez after some strong lead-up play from a familiar foe in Archie Thompson. Mat Ryan was more than up to the task as he confidently defused the situation.

In a frantic passage of play five minutes later the Costa Rican nearly brought his side back on level terms. Harry Kewell, playing for the first time on Bluetongue Stadium released Thompson with a gem of a pass, before Hernandez beat Ryan only to be denied by a last ditch clearance from Bojic. From the resulting counter attack Hearfield broke away only to be denied by a strong save from Covic.

Hearfield was in everything having another two chances saved by Covic as the half wound down.

Melbourne were fortunate not to concede a penalty in the early minutes of the second half after an attempted cross from Simon appeared to connect with the hands of Rodrigo Vargas. Undeterred the Mariners kept probing with first Simon and then McBreen firing off warning shots to the Victory defence.

The frenetic tempo of the match meant that substitutes became a necessity, and Bernie Ibini went within a goal-post-s width of sealing the points in the 74th minute. Some good work from McGlinchey unleashed the talented marksman who delivered a scintillating strike that rebounded to the New Zealand international. Unfortunately he was unable to take advantage of the opportunity and cleared the cross bar with the goal at his mercy.

At the other end of the park, and in a desperate attempt to pull back the Mariner-s one-goal advantage Mehmet Durakovic threw Daniel Allsopp into the fray. The striker who has caused plenty of headaches for the yellow and navy defence throughout the history of the Hyundai A-League did his best to make a name for himself within seconds of taking the field.

Mat Ryan pulled off a superb low save to deny the marksman, and with time running out the Mariners went in search for the game-defining goal.

In the 85th minute Simon duly obliged putting the exclamation mark on what has been a fantastic career with his hometown club. A well-worked pass from midfield found the departing marksman who easily rounded a tiring Franjic and with the professionalism that has given him the chance to further his career in Korea, calmly slotted home to the rapturous delight of the Bluetongue faithful. It was a decisive 2-goal lead that the home side would not relinquish.

In scenes reminiscent of another emotional farewell to a favorite son, Mile Jedinak, several seasons ago Simon left the Bluetongue turf to a standing ovation. With one final wave he disappeared up the tunnel and towards a new challenge in his football career.

For his teammates though the focus turns south towards a mouth-watering clash with Sydney FC this Sunday.

After the game Central Coast Mariners tactician lauded his side-s performance in front of the passionate local crowd.

“It was a fantastic night, and I think the performance of the season. A fairytale finish for Matty, and the crowd enjoyed it. It was great to play in front of a good crowd,” Arnold said.

Arnold added that the win highlighted the depth he has in his squad.

“It-s not a rotation system at all. We want to look after the youngsters. The kids have done fantastic, but three games in a week is a very heavy workload for them. Both Musti and Bernie pulled up sore after the Gold Coast game.

“One thing we have really focused on this year is to play the game not the scoreboard, and it-s a message I will keep telling them now. Play each game, not the table.

“Win the game and it will all sort itself out. It was a dream start, a crazy start. Defensively we were very strong, another clean sheet was pleasing. Young Sainsbury fitted in with no dramas,” said Arnold.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Simon 1-, 85-)

Melbourne Victory 0

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Troy HEARFIELD (9. Bernie IBINI 62-), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY (5. Brad PORTER 90 +1-),16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON (22. Mustafa AMINI 88-)

Subs not Used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (GK)

Yellow Cards: Sainsbury 53-

Red Cards: None

Melbourne Victory: 21. Ante COVIC (GK), 2. Matthew FOSCHINI, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Grant BREBNER, 10. Archie THOMPSON (C), 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Isaka CERNAK (11. Marco ROJAS 67-), 22. Harry KEWELL (18. Daniel ALLSOPP 76-)

Subs not Used: 20. Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 3. FABIO

Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Referee: Peter GREEN

Crowd: 12,284 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford