Mariners fall in League One Grand Finals

It was a tough day on Saturday for the Central Coast Mariners Academy, with both the first grade and U/20 sides falling to defeat in the NSW League One grand finals at Sydney United Sports Centre.

Despite the result, the teams can hold their heads high after an extremely successful year, with both finishing the regular season as Premiers and being promoted for 2023.

After scoring first, it would be extra time heartbreak for first grade, going down 2-1 after leading for much of the match.

The game got off to an extremely even start, with both sides easing into the occasion. The Mariners were hit with bad luck early, losing captain Brad Tapp to an injury in the 15th minute.

Despite the unexpected change, the Mariners began to take control. Dor Jok started to cause St George’s defence problems, repeatedly finding his way into the box off the back of scintillating solo runs.

After sustained pressure, the Mariners finally got a well-deserved goal, with Jackson Khoury creating the chance with some silky footwork. He beat his defender, squaring the ball to Harry McCarthy, and he fired it home, giving the Central Coast a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.

The Mariners almost doubled their advantage in the 39th minute, with Lachlan Bayliss finding some space inside the penalty area. He took a touch before having an effort at goal, with his shot leaving the keeper glued to the spot as he could only watch it rattle off the crossbar.

That chance would be the final major one of the half, with the Mariners holding a 1-0 lead heading into the break.

The Mariners continued to press after halftime, with Sasha Kuzevski and substitute Joshua Hong going close to extending our lead.

Jok went closest though, finding space behind St George’s defence in the 78th minute. The strikers attempt to chip goalkeeper Mackenzie Syron left him stranded as the ball sailed just right of the goal.

St George got their equaliser soon after though, with Troy Danaskos finding some room directly in front of the goal after a crafty pass from Damian German and hemade no mistake, drawing the scores level at 1-1 in the 81st minute.

Both teams had chances in the dying moments of regulation time, with neither side able to convert.

It was be St. George who scored first during extra time, with German receiving the ball after a piercing pass from Antonio Saracino. Mariners goalkeeper Marko Bulic could do nothing to keep the ball out, giving St George a 2-1 lead in the 100th minute.

Despite chances late, the Mariners were not able to grab an equaliser, with the final score reading 2-1.

That result came after a difficult afternoon for the under 20’s side, who went down 5-1 in their grand final to the Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Wanderers  scored first in the 26th minute, but the the Mariners got back into the match right on the stroke of half-time.

After being awarded a penalty in the 45th minute, Zac Waddell made no mistake, converting from the spot to draw the scores level at 1-1. Four second-half goals to the Wanderers however secured them the title. Despite Saturday’s result, the success of both sides throughout the season will see them play in the NSW NPL competition for 2023 after securing promotion.