In the second installment of the 'Mariners Top 5', we at Coastal Storm (just myself) thoroughly examined the Central Coast's performances over the campaign, and have come up with the best matches the yellow and navy played in season 2013/14.
5. ACL Matchday 4 - Central Coast Mariners 1 v 0 Beijing Guoan
Just two weeks after being out-muscled in the Middle Kingdom for a 2-1 defeat, the Mariners welcomed Chinese Super League powerhouse Beijing Guoan to Gosford smelling blood after a string of strong performances on the domestic scene. The home side entered the match coming off a three game winning streak in the A-League, but were long odds to secure all three points at the hands of the highly physical Beijing.
The Mariners looked like they may have given it away a little after the hour mark when Brent Griffiths brought down Beijing striker Peter Utaka in the box, but the resulting penalty was parried wide by an athletic diving save from Liam Reddy to keep the Chinese side at bay for the second time of the evening. Minutes later the Central Coast won the clash through the unlikely source of defender marcel Seip. Latching on to a delicate Kim Seung-yong cross, Seip powerfully volleyed the ball into the back of the net after 74 minutes to give the Mariners their second such famous victory of the Asian Champions League campaign.
4. Hyundai A-League Round 16 - Central Coast Mariners 3 v 0 Newcastle Jets
In what will go down as the most complete first half of football of the season for the Mariners, they thoroughly dominated their F3 rivals across the pitch and with the help of two top class goals from Anthony Caceras and Daniel McBreen, went into the interval with a 3 zip advantage over the Jets.
Caceras got the scoreboard ticking over early, with a stunning 25 yard drive at the end of a wieving run through numerous defenders leaving Mark Birighitti flapping at air as the ball whistled into the top corner to give the Mariners the lead after 13 minutes. The same corner was under fire again when Daniel McBreen doubled the tally minutes after the half hour mark, playing a quick one-two with Nick Fitzgerald on the edge of the box before curling his effort in what seemed like slow motion perfectly into the top left, and Matt Simon rounded out the scoring well into first half stoppage time as he lept highest to meet a corner kick and headed the ball into the bottom corner of the net. The Coast then played out the remaining 45 minutes without troubling the scorers to record their seventh win of the season and their equal largest winning margin over the Jets.
3. Hyundai A-League Round 4 - Newcastle Jets 2 v 2 Central Coast Mariners
After a horrendous first 56 minutes in which the Mariners allowed the Jets to score their first goal in over 350 minutes of football, followed by terrible keeping by Justin Pasfield to allow a back pass to roll into the net, the Mariners found themselves well on the back foot in the Hunter, but what came next was a true showing of grit, hunger and the qualities of a champion side.
After 65 minutes the Mariners were awarded a spot kick which Marcos Flores duly buried. An encroachment on the box by a Central Coast player saw the kick retaken, however the result was no different as Flores kept his nerve to get the Mariners back in the game at 2-1 down. It was then veteran striker Mile Sterjovski who completed the comeback after 80 minutes when a Flores shot rebounded of the crossbar and into the path of the ex-Socceroo. Despite a cluster of Jets players on the goaline, Sterjovski struck the ball straight into the bottom of the net to send the travelling Mariners contingent into hysteria and confirm once again that the yellow and navy should never be written off.
2. ACL Matchday 2 - Central Coast Mariners 2 v 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
A Mariners squad littered with six changes to ready the team for the weekend F3 derby hosted the current back-to-back J-League champions at Central Coast Stadium in the Asian Champions League. Phil Moss' men were given little hope if any to even steal a point from the Japanese giants, but a touch of class and experience from Mile Sterjovski saw the Mariners record arguably their most famous win in the clubs history.
Recent import Kim Seung-yong was blushing on the far post when the Mariners conceeded after 21 minutes, as the Korean ducked under the ball as it was headed towards goal to see Hiroshima take an expected lead. He made up for it moments later though as he sent through Mile Sterjovski with a pin point through ball. The Mariners striker beat the keeper to the ball and buried it to restore parity after just two minutes. The home fans were then brought to their feet after 30 minutes when Sterjovski doubled his and the Mariners tally with a stellar 25 yard drive that gave Hiroshima keeper Takuto Hiyashi no chance and the yellow and navy held on for their first win of the ACL campaign.
1. Hyundai A-League Round 27 - Brisbane Roar 0 v 2 Central Coast Mariners
They left it late, but the Mariners played their best game of the season in its last regular fixture before the finals series. Earlier, the Western Sydney Wanderers had come from behind to beat the Heart meaning the Coast had no chance of finishing the campaign in second - unless they fired an unanswered 11 goals into the Roar net, however a home semi final and a qualifying match for next years Asian Champions League was still up for grabs if the visitors could snatch a win at Suncorp.
The Mariners went in with a game plan, and whilst from the outside looking in it seemed like they were parking the bus, Phil Moss had implemented a game plan to firstly nullify Brisbane's best attacking assets (Broich, Berisha etc) before catching them on the counter with the wicked pace that the Mariners possess on the wings. It worked a treat. With Englishman Nick Montgomery dropping into the defence to act as a sweeper of sorts the Mariners played most of the game with an inpenentrable back five, whilst in attack when they had possession they were ruthless with ball finding the net firstly through Nick Fitzgerald after 22 minutes and again through a screamer from Anthony Caceras who has proven he can hit them from outside the box, sending a missile into Theo's net through a cluster of Roar defenders from 20 yards. Mark Bosnich described it as one of the best Mariners performances he has ever watched, and I have to agree.
Honourable Mentions: Hyundai A-League Round 25 - Central Coast Mariners 2 v 1 Western Sydney Wanderers, Hyundai A-League Round 12 - Central Coast Mariners 2 v 1 Perth Glory.
Have Your Say: Do you agree with the Mariners Top 5 Wins as listed above? Which game do you believe was the Number One?
Be sure to read tomorrow as we look at the Mariners Top 5 Losses of A-League season 9.