The Central Coast Mariners are the 2022-23 A-League Champions, defeating Melbourne City 6-1 in the Grand Final. In front of over 26,000 fans, consisting of mostly Mariners supporters, the Central Coast put on a clinic to secure the title.
The night included numerous magical moments, with the win being the Mariners first championship in 10 years. Jason Cummings broke the record for the most goals scored in a season by a Central Coast player, while Moresche got on the scoresheet for the first time since returning from his ACL injury.
Other notable performances include from Sammy Silvera and Beni Nkololo, with the wingers both securing a goal and an assist on the night.
It was a fast-paced opening 15 minutes to the match, with both sides looking to score an early goal. Jason Cummings going close in the ninth minute after receiving a pass from Marco Tulio, hitting a chipped shot goalward. Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover getting a hand to stop it the momentum, before Curtis Good was able to kick it to safety.
The Central Coast soon did get the game’s first, with Beni Nkololo streaming down the right wing. The Frenchman cutting it back across to Jason Cummings, with the striker shotting before his effort was blocked by a Melbourne City defender.
The striker continued to fight for the ball, poking it goalward and into the back of the net. The goal handing the Mariners a deserved 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
Marco Tulio almost doubled the lead shortly after, with the forward getting on the end of a through ball. His first shot stopped by a determined Glover, with the second again blocked off the line by Good.
The one goal lead soon did become two, with Cummings winning the ball in the midfield. His short pass left Silvera one-on-one with Nuno Reis, as the winger backed himself in a foot race.
After a feint he played a large touch to himself, bursting around the defender before burying the goal into the back of the net. His spectacular goal giving the Mariners a crucial 2-0 lead in the 34th minute, reward for the team’s early domination.
Five minutes later Melbourne City did get one back, with Jamie Maclaren finding space behind the Mariners defensive line. The striker squared the ball for the oncoming Richard van der Venne, who smacked it into the back of the net. The goal drawing one back for the home side, as they looked to mount a comeback.
Beni Nkololo almost had his first of the game in the 45th minute, with the Frenchman unlocked by yet another spectacular pass from Tulio. The winger hitting it to Glover’s right, with the gloveman stopping the ball with his leg. This was the final chance before the half-time break.
Melbourne City came out firing in the second half, eager to draw the scores level. Some strong defending and smart goalkeeping keeping the Mariners lead intact, before Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery looked to his substitutes bench. James McGarry was brought off for Jacob Farrell, with the academy product making an instant impact.
The left back getting his foot to a deflected pass from Cummings, before being taken to ground off the back of an Andrew Nabbout challenge.
Cummings took the responsibility from the spot, sending Glover the wrong way as he buried it into the left hand corner of the goal. The Yellow Army behind the net erupting as the ball crashed into the back of the goal, with the striker running into the adoring fans. The strike extending the Mariners lead to two in the 66th minute.
Just four minutes later Farrell again secured another penalty, this time from a hand ball. His driven cross trapped and pushed out by the hands of Callum Talbot, with the referee pointing to the spot.
On a hat-trick, Jason Cummings stepped up, looking to become the first player since Archie Thompson to score three or more in a Grand Final. The Socceroo did just that, smacking the ball into the top right corner in the 73rd minute to break Daniel McBreen’s record for most Mariners goals in a single season with 20.
As Melbourne City pushed players forward to try and get back into the match, the Mariners continued to put the Premiers to the sword. Some more Silvera brilliance unlocked Nkololo, with the young winger crossing the ball over with the outside of his boot as three defenders attempted to shut him down.
The pass finding Nkololo completely free mere metres out from goal, comfortably heading it in in the 83rd minute. The Mariners and their fans in dreamland, leading 5-1.
Montgomery soon used all of his allotted substitutions, with Moresche, Christian Theoharous, Harry Steele and Dan Hall all coming on at different stages at the back end of the second half. It was ultimately Moresche who inflicted the final blow, with Theoharous collecting the ball and dribbling into the box.
His deflected shot finding Nkololo who poked it onto the Brazilian. He cut onto his right foot, unleashing a strike that crashed into the net. The Mariners in wonderland, recording the second largest Grand Final victory in A-League history as the match finished 6-1.
With the full-time whistle the bench cleared onto the field, as the entire club celebrated an incredible season and Grand Final. Almost 12 months since the start of pre-season, and so many years in the making, the Mariners are the 2022/23 A-League Champions!