The Central Coast Mariners will begin their A-League season with a trip up the M1 to face bitter rivals, Newcastle Jets, in Round One of the Isuzu UTE A-League season.
In the last meeting between the two sides at McDonald Jones Stadium it ended with a Mariners win when Matt Simon stepped up from the spot and dispatched the ball home to send the Mariners fans into raptures and aid the club in their final’s charge where they finished the league season in 3rd place.
The Mariners will be looking to repeat the trick on Sunday afternoon having re-secured the signature of the likes of Matt Simon, Mark Birighitti, Kye Rowles and Ruon Tongyik to name a few, who will all be favourites to start. The Yellow and Navy will have a new Head Coach in the role with Nick Montgomery taking charge of the side for the 2021/22 season. Montgomery is no stranger to the club, being a former captain of the Mariners and racking up 116 appearances across a six year spell.
Central Coast Mariners are coming off the back of a win in wild conditions in Mudgee where they comfortably dispatched NPL side Blacktown City FC in a dominant performance where they completed nearly 600 passes and enjoyed 75% possession. Blacktown City’s goalkeeper Tristan Prendergast had one of the performances of his life to keep the score respectable after he made a number of quality key saves until the winner was found in the 75th minute from Béni Nkololo.
On Sunday afternoon, at McDonald Jones Stadium it is predicted to be a bumper day of football with a fiery F3 derby being followed by another A-League match between Macarthur FC and Wellington Phoenix. This has materialised after Campbelltown Stadium was deemed unfit to play on and an alternative venue was chosen, being McDonald Jones Stadium. If fans have a ticket for the derby, they can stay back and watch more A-League football as the match is included in the same ticket.
Having played in many derbies across the world, Mariners Head Coach Nick Montgomery is excited to experience his first F3 Derby from a different perspective.
“I’m really looking forward to the game. Obviously, it’s not our home game but I am looking forward to a lot of the Mariners fans travelling up and creating a good atmosphere.”
“It’s a derby game, number one you have to compete. We’ll be ready for whatever they throw at us and no doubt we will give a good account of ourselves” Montgomery said.
Mariners’ goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is one of a select few who have played on both sides of the divide and is relishing the opportunity to get one over on his former employers.
“The boys are rearing to go and what a game to start the season. A derby up in Newcastle against my old mob. I’m just really looking forward to it and the boys are keen to get going again.”
“There’s nothing better than playing in front of a big crowd and hopefully we can see plenty of Mariners fans in the stands tomorrow” Birighitti said.
One to Watch – Central Coast Mariners
Keep an eye out for Béni Nkololo who is going to be a key part of Nick Montgomery’s side this season. He scored the winner in the FFA Cup Round of 32 and will be hoping to prove his worth to the Mariners faithful once more in the F3 Derby.
The Opposition – Newcastle Jets
The Newcastle Jets are a much changed side from the team that Mariners defeated twice last season after signing numerous players in the transfer market. The Jets also have a new manager at the helm in Arthur Papas, who has come to the A-League from Japan where he most recently managed Kagoshima United after a stint at Yokohama F. Marinos with Ange Postecoglou.
The Novocastrians have had their first taste of competitive action which was a 2-1 loss to Western United in the FFA Cup Playoff with a free-kick from Daniel Penha being the Jets’ sole goal of the game.
One to Watch – Newcastle Jets
Daniel Penha is a Brazilian striker who has landed at the Jets with a big reputation. He is strong on his left foot and can pose a danger to Nick Montgomery’s men.
The F3 Derby has been one of the most even derbies in world football with 53 matches played and the record sitting on 17 wins, 18 draws and 18 losses in regard to the Mariners. At McDonald Jones Stadium, the Mariners have played 25 games and scored 25 goals, with Matt Simon’s first goal in Yellow and Navy being one of those back in 2008.
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners
Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s Round One
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle NSW
Broadcast Live on Paramount+ from 3:45pm