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In their final home game of the season, the Central Coast Mariners fired three goals past the Western Sydney Wanderers to claim three points and send their passionate fan base home with a well-earned 3-1 win.

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Simon 34’, 51, Rowles 57’) Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Bridge 67’)

The run down

In a battle between two sides playing for their fans, a brace to Matt Simon and maiden Mariners goal to Kye Rowles sealed the 3-1 win, despite Rowles being shown a red card with just over 20 minutes to play.

It was a cagey affair as both sides had attacking intent and were keen to open the scoring. The first chance of the game fell to the Yellow and Navy after pinball in the box allowed Rowles to have a shot, but his effort was blocked on the line.

The Wanderers slowly made their way into the match and forced Adam Pearce into a couple of routine saves. Pearce stood tall throughout the duration of the match and showed his quality in between the sticks. In the 34th minute, Matt Simon smashed in a free kick from close range to give the Mariners a deserved lead. The goal gave the Mariners momentum and a Jordan Murray header narrowly went past the goal after a superb Matt Millar cross.

The defensive duo of Sam Graham and Rowles were impressive as they managed to hold out danger men Oriel Riera and Baumjohann. They fought hard and held a deserved lead at the half time break.

The second half continued in the free-flowing manner of the first half. In the 51st minute, the Mariners were awarded a penalty after Jordan Murray was taken down by the Wanderers goalkeeper. Matt Simon coolly slotted his penalty away, collecting a brace and doubling the lead for the Yellow and Navy.

It didn’t take long for the Mariners to grab another goal and in the 57th minute, Kye Rowles saw his header from a Jack Clisby corner fly into the bottom corner, for his first ever Hyundai A-League goal.

In the 65th minute, the Wanderers converted a penalty through substitute Mark Bridge. The game then heated up after a late challenge by Kye Rowles on Baumjohann was reviewed by VAR and the Mariners centre half was shown his marching orders in the 71st minute.

Tensions grew as the game entered the 80th minute, the Wanderers piled the pressure on the 10-men Mariners. Adam Pearce pulled off a great save from Majok just before Bonevacia had his shot blocked by a desperate Mariners defence.

Stoppage time also saw the arrival of academy player Dylan Ruiz-Diaz who made his Hyundai A-League debut. The Yellow and Navy saw out a tense finish to win 3-1 at home.

GOALS:

34’ SIMON GOAL (1-0): With the run up of a pace bowler, Matt Simon put his laces through a free-kick that flew through the wall, giving Jack Greenwood in goal no chance to make a save.

51’ SIMON GOAL (2-0): Simon smartly slotted his penalty past Greenwood to double his personal tally and Mariners’ advantage.

57’ ROWLES GOAL (3-0): Kye Rowles glanced his header past the Wanderers shot stopper after a great delivery by Clisby.

67’ BRIDGE GOAL (3-1): Bridge smashed his penalty right into the top corner.

Stajcic in the media

“That was our best performance since I’ve been here, we thoroughly deserved the win. We picked them apart and that was the aim of the game and we executed our plan really well in the first half. Our execution and passes in the penalty box are still average, other than that I thought we could’ve been up 2 or 3 nil at half time. We got that lead in the second half and dominated right until the red card which changed the game for a little bit. They had a few chances, but we held firm and I’m really happy about that.

“To have that desire and it’s more about mentality as both teams can’t make the finals. That’s the part I’m most pleased with to have that mentality to be playing at the last home game of the year. There was a high degree of hunger there and apart from that I thought we dominated the game with the ball which we haven’t done since I’ve been here. Up until that red card I’m sure we would have dominated possession and that’s what you want.

“Dylan’s [Ruiz-Diaz] been working really well in training, he’s a real threat in front of goal. Like all the clubs in the A-League we want to bring in as many youngsters, unfortunately I would’ve liked him to bring him on earlier however the circumstances of the game changed that but I’m happy they got on.

“[Aiden O’Neill] is a fantastic player and has a bright future ahead. He’s already in the Olyroos and if he can keep improving, I have no doubt he can knock on the door of the Socceroos in the next couple of years he’s got so much potential. He’s got good mentality and a great professional, spent a bit of time doing it tough overseas and he will be a great attribute to Australian football for sure.

“We’ve already signed a couple of players, Jack and Jordan signed and for me they symbolise what we want. They have great character and consistent players, they play with heart and spirit, they want to learn and are extremely professional at training. We want a group of players here that are committed, unified, strong and we saw that today.

“For me it’s a matter of finishing on a high next week and the goals were always to lay a good platform. I think we’ve done that, there’s a lot more stability around the team and the club and at the end of the day there’s hope to have that win to give the fans and players hope. If we can improve a little bit there’s no doubt we can be finals contenders next season,” Stajcic said.

Central Coast Mariners: 12. Adam PEARCE (GK), 3. Jack Clisby, 7. Andrew HOOLE (17. Peter KEKERIS 90’), 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 15. Kye ROWLES, 18. Matt MILLAR, 19. Matt SIMON (c) (36. Dylan RUIZ-DIAZ), 22. Jacob MELLING, 25. Jordan MURRAY, 28. Sam GRAHAM, 68. Jem KARACAN (6. Tom HIARIEJ 68’)

Substitutes not used: 1. Ben KENNEDY (GK) & 33. Lewis MILLER

Yellow cards: CLISBY 27’, Karacan 42’,

Red Cards: Rowles 71’

Western Sydney Wanderers: 50. Jack GREENWOOD (GK), 3. Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO, 5. Brendan HAMILL (c), 9. Oriel RIERA (19. Mark BRIDGE 63’), 10. Alexander BAUMJOHANN, 11. Bruce KAMAU, 12. Mitchell DUKE (49. Abraham MAJOK 63’), 21. Tarek ELRICH (17. Keanu BACCUS 63’), 22. Rashid MAHAZI, 24. Raul LLORENTE, 28. Roly BONEVACIA

Substitutes not used: 60. Oliver KALAC (c), 13. Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS

Yellow cards: Hamill 32’, Greenwood 51’,

Saturday, 20 April 2019
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Crowd: 5059
Central Coast Mariners vs. Western Sydney Wanderers