Plucky Mariners pick-up Premiers Plate in pink

Central Coast Mariners lifted the Premiers Plate for the first time in 12 years, after a 2-0 win over Adelaide.

Going into the game, the Mariners needed just one point to seal the trophy, but did it with all three and a 12th clean sheet of the season.

And of course we did it the only way we know, with academy products at the heart of our success. Jacob Farrell and Max Balard our goalscorers on a special night.

Adelaide, despite having nothing to play for on the ladder, were intent on spoiling the party and contributed to yet another fantastic contest between The Mariners and the Reds.

The entertainment started from the off, both keepers were in early action as Ethan Cox made up for a loose pass by pouncing on a half-chance for Balard, before Danny Vukovic had to carefully catch Zach Clough’s looping cross right underneath his crossbar.

There was then a bizarre moment less than three minutes in, as Brian Kaltak headed off the underside of the crossbar. The linesman flagged for offside but some in the stadium thought he had signalled for a goal, sparking a few celebrations until they were put on hold…

Vukovic was in fine form in the Mariners goal, he made two key saves on 12 and 15 minutes, denying Stefan Mauk, the start of a Man of the Match display from our skipper.

Nestory Irankunda, keen to end his A-League career on a high before he departs to Bayern Munich, was looking threatening, he had his first effort on 23 minutes but Kaltak denied him with a brave block.

The Mariners gained control of the game from there, young Adelaide keeper Ethan Cox made a brilliant stop to deny Christian Theoharous from close range on 32 minutes but there would be nothing he could do four minutes later as Farrell opened the scoring, heading in from Mikael Doka’s free-kick.

A seventh assist of the season for Doka, taking him joint third in the A-League assists chart which is of course led outright by our very own Josh Nisbet with nine.

The Mariners started on top after the break and would be much more dominant in the second half.

Bradley Tapp saw a header comfortably saved by Cox, before a brilliant passage of play with Nisbet at the heart of it ended with Storm Roux flashing a ball across the face of goal but nobody in pink could provide the finishing touch.

Cox was forced into another save moments later, just managing to tip Doka’s curling effort from range over the crossbar.

Adelaide’s first real effort of the second half came on the hour mark as Irankunda almost provided another stunner to add to his highlight reel, a ferocious effort that brought Vukovic once again to his very best.

Any nerves were eased on 76 minutes when Balard wrapped up the scoring, pouncing on a loose touch on the edge of the Adelaide box before coolly slotting past Cox into the bottom corner.

A clinical finish from the 23-year-old who has seemingly found his goalscoring boots, that’s three in his last five A-League matches after previously not scoring in his first 74.

There was incredible scenes upon the full time whistle as player and staff celebrated a momentous achievement for the football club with our Mariners Family, inside our beautiful stadium.

There is no rest for the team, just as they are used to this season, as next up we fly to Oman for the AFC Cup final as we seek to tick off the next step of a potentially historic treble.

Until then, enjoy this one, Mariners fans.