Magic Mariners break winless duck

The Central Coast Mariners have recorded a famous F3 Derby victory over fierce rivals Newcastle Jets, the 3-nil triumph ending an incredibly frustrating five month victory drought at Bluetongue Stadium.

The Central Coast Mariners have recorded a famous F3 Derby victory over fierce rivals Newcastle Jets, the 3-nil triumph ending an incredibly frustrating five month victory drought at Bluetongue Stadium.

While the Yellow and Navy-s finals hopes had been extinguished a week earlier in Perth, there was a party vibe in the air for the Monday night postponed fixture, which marked Andrew Clark-s final home appearance after making a decision to retire, and Nigel Boogaard-s Bluetongue bow, before he relocates to Adelaide.

For Mariners- Football Manager Lawrie McKinna, the relief was unmistakable after a 10 week winless streak.

“Over the last ten weeks it-s been hard, and in a lot of these games we feel as though we should have got a lot more out of but we never, and that-s football, so to come to the last home game and get a very convincing win over Newcastle, our local rivals, is great,” said McKinna.

“I-m just happy for the players, they-ve worked hard all season and we-ve copped a lot of criticism for the poor run of results, but that is probably one of the most convincing games we-ve played against our local rivals in the five years.”

With just one win in front of the Bluetongue Stadium faithful this campaign the Mariners were desperate to finish on a high, particularly against their fierce rivals, and Ljubo Milicevic had to be at the top of his game to clear the danger after Adam Kwasnik was released early on.

Nigel Boogaard cleared off the line three minutes in after Labinot Haliti headed down an Ali Abbas cross for Matt Thompson, luckily for the Mariners, the Jets captain hesitated in front of goal allowing Boogaard to get a vital boot in.

The home side was clearly dominating in the middle of the park, holding the ball well and providing improved distribution into the final third, where Pedj Bojic won his team a corner on 16 minutes after good lead up work from Boogaard.

The set piece was headed behind for another corner, and this time, the result would be even more lucrative for the hosts.

Brad Porter looped it in from the South Western corner, and Boogaard, playing his last match at Bluetonge before his move to Adelaide, powerfully headed into the bottom corner from 10 yards for his second of the campaign, both coming against his hometown club.

Shane Huke, in just his second start this season was looking solid at right back, and cleared off the line on 20 minutes, but only as far as Abbas, the Iraqi-s powerful effort from the edge of the area brilliantly parried around the post by Danny Vukovic, who did even better a minute later, as he held another strong Abbas effort.

Tarek Elrich had a shot deflected wide as the visitors pressed, while Nikolai Topor-Stanley outmuscled debutante Panny Nikas to shadow the ball over the byline after it appeared the Mariners- National Youth League captain could have been in on goal.

Lawrie McKinna-s men had an even better chance on the half hour to double their lead, when Kwasnik showed great strength to go around Milicevic and whip a ball in from the right, but unfortunately, Brad Porter-s first time effort cleared the crossbar.

Nikas had a long range effort take a similar path late in the half, but the hosts had done enough to take a deserved 1-nil lead into the break.

Labinot Haliti picked up a booking from referee Williams as he went searching for a penalty soon after the restart and the visitors woes were compounded just five minutes into the second half, when Huke played a lovely ball over the top for Kwasnik, who showed great touch to lob Kennedy with his first touch and double the lead.

Porter went close again, hitting the crossbar after latching on to a Boogaard delivery from the left, and once again, Milicevic was Johnny on the spot to clear the scraps off the line from under Simon-s nose.

Haliti-s second booking in nine minutes earned him an early bath and the hosts had a numerical advantage, Matt Simon very nearly made it count too on 66 minutes, but his 20 yard effort was blocked en route toward the goal.

Andrew Clark, announcing his retirement to teammates late in the week and to fans tonight was introduced to rapturous applause on 67 minutes, while at the other end of the scale, Brady Smith came on two minutes later for his maiden Hyundai A-League appearance, and provided the Mariners third goal almost instantly.

Porter played the ball into the box and the Wyoming junior turned and layed the ball across the face, where it bypassed Milicevic-s outstretched foot and fell to Simon, who buried his first goal in nine weeks, his seventh of the campaign.

The match was as good as over, and while Danny Vukovic had to do brilliantly to keep a deflected Ali Abbas shot from sneaking inside the left post with an outstretched hand, the visitors never really looked like clawing their way back in.

Indeed, Smith very nearly marked his debut with a goal late on when he smashed a 20 yard effort agonizingly over the bar, and while Pedj Bojic received his marching orders for a second yellow card in the dying stages, it did little to dampen the spirits of the loyal core of hardy fans, and McKinna and his men, all of whom desperately deserved a home win, almost five months in the making.

McKinna praised the performances of rookies Brady Smith, Matthew Lewis and Panny Nikas, all of whom are in line to retain their spots for Friday-s final round trip to Wellington.

“Shane Huke, Panny Nikas and young (Matthew) Lewis and young Brady Smith came on and played their part in the game tonight. It-s satisfying from our point of view that the young ones came in and did their bit.

“We want to sign the best players available. Panny was on a full time contract as a replacement, Lewis has been in and out this season and done well, Brady Smith has been outstanding in the Youth and they came on and showed that tonight. These are good boys, Brady a local boy, and a lot of those young fans out there tonight, Brady is their dream, coming through and playing for the Mariners.

“Doig has got a little injury could, Kwasnik has got a little injury cloud and if Clarky-s body holds together … they-ll be going along with the old fella next to me,” McKinna said.

The “old fella” McKinna was referring to was Andrew Clark, who announced next Friday-s clash in the Kiwi capital would be his last after five seasons at his hometown club, opting to hang up the boots to concentrate on his role as the club-s strength and conditioning coach.

“It-s been brilliant to be able to do that at home. I had no expectations about today but to go out and finish with a convincing win in a derby game like that is a great place to finish playing and great way to do it.

“It-s been something I-ve been thinking about for a while. I-ve had a little bit of an ongoing injury problem that isn-t getting any problem. I-ve got high hopes for the future and I just realized that for the club and for myself I-m going to be much better served to be able to put all my energy into making sure that we come back and win trophies at this club,” said Clark.

The Mariners- final match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Friday, 12 February. Kick-off is at 7:30pm NZST.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 3. Shane HUKE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 10. Panny NIKAS (6. Brady SMITH 69-), 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG (15. Andrew CLARK 67-), 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matthew SIMON, 23. Adam KWASNIK (12. Matthew LEWIS 61-).

Unused Subs 30. Mathew RYAN (GK).

Yellow Cards Bojic 79-, 88-
Red Cards Bojic 88-
Goals Boogaard 17-, Kwasnik 51-, Simon 72-

Newcastle Jets 1. Ben KENNEDY (GK), 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (2. Ange COSTANZO 81-), 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (C) (22. Kaz PATAFTA 46-), 11. Tarek ELRICH, 14. Michael BRIDGES (9. Sasho PETROVSKI 67-), 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS.

Unused Subs 30. Dion SHAW (GK).

Yellow Cards Haliti 48-, 57-, Milicevic 85-
Red Cards Haliti 57-
Goals None

Referee Ben WILLIAMS
Crowd 5,842