“I’m really proud” Jackson after Wellington win

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson said he is ‘really proud’ of his players after they won late on against title-challengers Wellington Phoenix on Saturday evening.

The Mariners returned to the summit of the Isuzu UTE A-League in front of almost 10,000 fans, with a 2-1 win thanks to Mikael Doka’s late stunner.

READ MORE: More late drama as Doka stunner takes Mariners top

Jackson hailed the incredible support at Our Paradise, the ‘never-say-die’ attitude of his squad and once again spoke highly of his competitor Giancarlo Italiano, in his post-match press conference.

“We’re really pleased with the game and how the players executed what we wanted to do.” Jackson said.

“We knew it was going to be really tough against a good team with a great manager, so we knew we needed to be good.”

I thought it was a really strong performance and we showed our character by pushing to the end. There was nearly 10,000 in the stadium and they pushed us on until the end.

Mark Jackson on the fans’ influence.

“We have got a group of players who never say die, stick together and keep pushing. In the last two games now we’ve won late on so we’re really pleased.”

Jackson said his pre-match video consisted of presenting a compilation of some of the best goals his side has scored this season, displaying the quality of this squad throughout the campaign.

Doka was one player who featured a few times and came up with the goods once again to snatch the late win, Jacko praised the Brazilian’s attacking quality but was once again quick to highlight how this was a team effort.

“Today is not about one player,” Jackson said. “We will celebrate together but we want to achieve much more. We know we can always improve and we will strive to do that, but that was an important game for us.”

After a dominant first half in which the Mariners were unfortunate to not take the lead, coming closest through Doka’s free-kick, the deadlock was finally broken on 61 minutes when Angel Torres met Storm Roux’s cross with a diving header.

Phoenix equalised on 78 minutes, a goal which Jackson said can definitely be ‘picked apart’ defensively, highlighting lost duels as a key factor, but insisted Wellington are a good team capable of opening teams up on the counter attack.

“There are elements that we can pick apart and get better at but the players showed character and desire, and their physical capacity to keep pushing right until the end. This group of players have had to contend with a lot, with the AFC Cup which we have coming again. I’m really proud of them today.” Jackson said.

The win puts the Mariners in pole position to lift their first Premiers Plate in 12 years, with three games remaining and whilst the table might suggest the Mariners have the favourable run in over Phoenix, Jackson knows there are no easy games in the A-League.

The Mariners travel to a rejuvenated Western side who marked their first ever game at their new Tarneit facility this weekend, with a 4-2 come-back win over 4th placed Macarthur to lift themselves off bottom of the ladder.

We then return to Our Paradise for the final time in the regular Isuzu UTE A-League season on April 21st, hosting Adelaide United who are, at the time of writing, on a three-game winning streak as they stay in hot pursuit of a finals spot.

The Mariners then end the season with a short trip up the Pacific Highway, for a potentially huge final day F3 Derby at McDonald Jones Stadium.

“We will go out to [win all three games], that’s the make up of our mentality. Our processes will stay the same like they have all season. We will review and strive to get better, we will be ready for the next game.” Jackson said.

After two intense tactical battles against Italiano and Wellington, Jackson was once again full of praise for the Wellington boss.

“He’s a fantastic coach and he’s done ever so well this season, so I have got the utmost respect for him, and the other coaches in this league.” Jackson said.

“We have come up against some tactical challenges [this season] so that is credit to the A-League, not only are they producing players but they are producing and attracting coaches to compete with each other on a tactical level.”

“We managed to get over the line tonight, I’m pleased with how we performed and executed the game plan.”

You can watch Jacko’s full post-match press conference here.