The Central Coast Mariners played in front of over 11 thousand people at Central Coast Stadium as the F3 Derby closed out the regular Isuzu UTE A-League season.
A goal from Jason Cummings in the first half was added to in the second by Frenchman Béni Nkololo and the Mariners finished off the season in great fashion with three points against their rivals, condemning them to an Australia Cup play-off.
The Mariners were forced into making a few changes from Tuesday’s win in Brisbane as Josh Nisbet and Dan Hall were unable to overcome knocks while Marco Ureña came back into the side as Moresche dropped to the bench.
In the opening moments, Newcastle Jets would strike the post however following that, what followed was a half of pure dominance from the Mariners.
Lewis Miller had the first chance of the game when he was released down the right and used some quick footwork to create an angle for a strike at goal however his attempt was dragged wide of the target.
Next to fashion an opportunity was Storm Roux who was played in behind but his header across the face of goal wasn’t met by a yellow shirt and it drifted off away for a goal-kick.
The football across the Central Coast turf was scintillating from the Mariners as they continued to pull the Jets apart and they fashioned a double chance from Max Balard and Nklololo however both were blocked on the edge and the chance was squandered.
When Marco was released in behind and his effort went up, the Mariners were knocking on the door but it seemed like they wouldn’t find the breakthrough, however it would come from the reliable source of Jason Cummings.
When the ball was played to Jason from Max Balard, he created space inside the box with four defenders around him and curled an effort into the top corner which only further highlights his capabilities for the national side.
The Mariners had the momentum and looked to capitalise as Storm Roux was set up by Jason however his effort lacked the accuracy and was more of a threat to the sauce bottles than Michael Weier in the Newcastle Jets net.
With the score at 1-0 at the half, Nick Montgomery would’ve pushed his side for more goals in the second however they almost found themselves level moments into the second stanza when Beka Mikeltadze found himself un-marked in the box however his attempt was steered over the crossbar.
The Yellow and Navy rallied for more goals and would find it through their Frenchman Béni Nkololo.
Storm Roux who was playing at left back in place of the suspended Jacob Farrell took off down the wing and linked with Moresche. The Brazilian then played a through ball to Nkololo that was too heavy and Michael Weier came out to clear however his clearance cannoned off the winger and fell favourably as he round the stricken keeper and tapped into the empty net, setting off the cannon and sending the strong Mariners crowd into celebration.
Nkololo almost repeated the trick as Weier’s headed clearance fell straight to Béni, however his looping attempt from distance didn’t have enough pace behind it as the Jets keeper got back to claim with ease.
With the injured Dan Hall, Cameron Windust came in from the start however one of the biggest receptions of the night went to the return of Ruon Tongyik who entered the field of play for the first time since the passing of his brother.
Garang Kuol’s introduction was met with anticipation and excitement and he almost found himself on the scoresheet once more when he drove down the right wing and fashioned a chance, but despite Central Coast Stadium attempting to suck the ball into the net, it deflected and instead struck the side netting.
Kuol was involved once more when he came inside to try his luck but he couldn’t repeat the efforts of last week and Michael Weier was behind that strike comfortably.
The only concern for the Mariners was the injury to Moresche who was unable to continue but with Mark Birighitti pulling off a few strong saves to cement his position as one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
For the hosts, their eyes now turn to Sunday’s clash with Adelaide United and Western United which will decide whether they face a trip to Adelaide or a home match against the Reds or Phoenix next Sunday.
With fireworks on the field post game, the Mariners can celebrate their fantastic season which sees them retain finals once again after a highly successful opening tenure from Nick Montgomery at the helm.