Four goals from left sided utility Matt Sim have guided the Central Coast Mariners to a dominant 5-0 victory over second tier Palm Beach Sharks in their FFA Cup Quarter Final clash on the Gold Coast.
Less than 12 months after being cherry picked from the NSW Premier League, the 26-year old exhibited poise on the ball and a prolific nature inside the box, giving Phil Moss a selection headache as he looks ahead to the Mariners home clash against Wellington on the weekend.
In even more incredible circumstances, Sim bagged the match ball after starting on the bench, and was not introduced until the 72nd minute.
In his 20-minute cameo, Sim succeeded Daniel McBreen and Michael McGlinchey, who both bagged hattricks two campaigns ago, as the highest Mariners goalscorer in a single match, while Besart Berisha's three goals against Tuggeranong United no longer stands as the most goals in an individual FFA Cup fixture.
The yellow and navy looked a shadow of the side that overcame local rivals Newcastle in the A-League opening round three days earlier, with seven of the starting 11 from Saturday missing the flight north. But the change seemed to have little effect on the youthful Central Coast outfit, who at one point commanded 80% of possession.
Mariners fans got their first glimpse of Budapest Honved loanee, Richard Vernes, but the Hungarian would hope to reach dizzier heights in Gosford than he did in Robina after struggling to have an impact on the clash.
Glen Trifiro meanwhile, replacing Kim Seung-yong in the playmaker role, pushed his case for a start at the weekend with a stellar performance in the number ten role.
With two goals and two assists to his name in FFA Cup clashes past, Trifiro emulated that form in an 80-minute spell, pulling the string in the middle of the park to eventually play through Isaka Cernak for the opening goal after some clever one-touch lead up work between Caceras and Vernes. The former Glory and Victory man made no mistake on the angle, blasting his shot past a stationary Shane Vitakangas into the opposite corner to open his account in a yellow jersey and provide just reward for a clinical opening stanza.
Trifiro turned provider again on the other side of the break, with his swerving shot parried by Palm Beach gloveman Vitakangas into the path of substitute Sim, before playing Sim in on goal with an exquisite through ball three minutes later.
The former Manly United midfielder benefitted from an ailing Palm Beach backline to complete the rout with two goals in the dying embers of the match.
The result ended the fairytale for Palm Beach, but sees the Mariners become the first ever side to reach the FFA Cup Semi Final stage.