Match Preview: More history to be made for Jacko’s Mariners

Central Coast Mariners host Sydney FC in one of the biggest games Our Paradise has ever seen, on Saturday evening. Here is your Match Preview, brought to you by mate.

Mark Jackson’s men take a one-goal lead into the second leg against a wounded Sydney FC, who will no doubt still present a tough challenge for the Mariners.

Jacko’s team are looking to break even more records this season, the Mariners have never made it to two consecutive Grand Finals and this one has even more meaning, after it was announced that Industree Group Stadium could be a Grand Final venue for the first time.

⚔️ First leg

A game that had it all and could well go down as an A-League classic. The Mariners fought back from a goal down to take the win, the first time Jackson’s side have done that away from home in the A-League this season.

Previously, the Mariners had done it at home against Perth (4-2) and Melbourne City (2-1) as well as away from home in the AFC Cup against Macarthur (3-2).

By beating Sydney and ending a bit of a hoodoo against the Sky Blues this season, Jackson has now led the team to victory against every single A-League team in his first campaign in charge.

Sydney took the lead at Allianz against the run of play, Joel King benefitting from a couple of deflections to strike the first goal in the tie.

However, Mikael Doka once again stole the headlines for the Mariners, a common theme through the second half of the season, scoring the winning goal on the night from the spot after Christian Theoharous was fouled.

Doka also had a hand in our equaliser right on the stroke of half time, with his shot from outside the box too hot to handle for Andrew Redmayne and Josh Nisbet was able to pounce and score the rebound.

Sydney finished the game with nine men as Jack Rodwell and Corey Hollman were shown second half red cards.

Eight minutes into the second half, Rodwell was shown a red card after a VAR review, for a reckless, studs-up challenge on Theoharous which subsequently forced the number seven to be substituted.

Then seven minutes before full time, Hollman was shown a second yellow card as he halted a Mariners counter attack with a foul on Ronald Barcellos.

With a two-man advantage, the Mariners pushed to extend their lead but couldn’t break down a deep Sydney block as the Sky Blues held on to keep this tie finely poised going into a massive second leg in Gosford.

Watch the first leg highlights via

🔑 Key Players

Mariners: Described by Harry Steele as ‘the old bear’ of the group, Danny Vukovic‘s experience will be huge for this young Mariners squad on such a momentous occasion.

Sydney are expected to fly out of the traps and throw everything at the Mariners to overturn the one-goal deficit, so he might be called upon early on.

It also has to be mentioned, the possible eventuality of extra-time followed by penalties could see Vuka take the spotlight and the Mariners would not rather have anyone else between the sticks but our legendary stopper and captain.

Sydney FC: Without Joe Lolley, much of the creative burden for Sydney FC falls on Anthony Caceres who with eight assists, was second to only Nisbet (9) in the assist charts throughout the regular A-League season.

Defensively, suspension to Rodwell piles even more pressure onto the young shoulders of Hayden Matthews, who has captured plenty of admirers in his maiden A-League season.

Whoever starts up front for the Mariners will be tasked with not giving him a moments rest, as well as providing a tough, physical challenge for the 19-year-old.

🏟 Sold out Our Paradise

Our Paradise was officially announced as SOLD OUT on Thursday evening, for just the second time in Mariners history.

Jacko will see his new home sold out for the first time, and he said it has been a ‘massive push’ by players, staff and supporters to make this possible, speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

Read more from Jacko: ‘Pressure is a privilege’ Jacko on Sydney and selection ‘headache’

The previous sell out was almost a year ago to the date, when the Mariners hosted Adelaide in a semi-final second leg in extremely similar circumstances.

Following a 2-1 win at Coopers Stadium in the first leg, the Mariners returned home and sealed the deal to book their place in the Grand Final with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Sammy Silvera and Marco Tulio on an unforgettable night.

We are hoping for more scenes like that on Saturday evening, as we look to bring the Grand Final to Gosford for the first time in history.