Derby win sets the stage for bumper City clash

Mariners players celebrate with fans in Newcastle

Mariners Head Coach Alen Stajcic said after Saturday’s #F3Derby win on Saturday that he can’t wait to get down to Melbourne to face ladder leaders Melbourne City this weekend.

The Mariners moved back into outright second on Saturday night with a 1-0 win in Newcastle and sit nine points behind City and a point ahead of Sydney FC and Macarthur in third and fourth.

Positions may change by the time the two teams kick off at AAMI Park next Saturday, but with the home and away portion of the season finished Stajcic was proud of the effort displayed to be sitting top two with four matches to play.

“I said it after round two, [our goal] was to make champions league and that is the home and away done for the year, 22 matches every team has played each other twice at the end of this week,” he said.

“If it was a normal home and away competition, we would’ve finished in the top two. So, it’s just a massive credit to the players to be able to achieve such an amazing accomplishment for our team and our club and for us to be so high this late in the year.”

“The players have just really shown up week in week out, you know we’ve had a sort of lean-ish trot in terms of results, maybe not performances in my view but for us to end up 2nd on the pile after a full home and away and have consistency throughout just shows how good a season we have had and how proud we are at the club of our playing roster.”

Matt Simon’s second half penalty was the difference on Saturday night, his 10th goal of the season, and came amidst a better patch of play after half time following a first half where Stajcic’s side struggled to make their mark.

The boss was pleased though that the team remained in the game despite struggling at times and put themselves in a position to take the lead.

“I was just happy with the fact that we could not play so well in the match and have that resilience,” Stajcic said.

“Grinding out tackles and defending free kicks and corners like we had to against probably the tallest team in the league, so we found different ways to get up to the battle and fight the battle which we did.”

“We didn’t necessarily play the best football in terms of technique and passing so I was very happy that we came in at the break level and we showed all those qualities, as we are going to need those qualities come finals time.”

Saturday’s game will kick off at 7:10pm from AAMI Park in Melbourne, and will be live on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and the MyFootball Live app.