Central Coast Mariners continued their unbeaten run in the best possible fashion with a dominant 2-nil victory over the Newcastle Jets in their Week 10 Hyundai A-League encounter at Bluetongue Stadium this evening. Goals from Rostyn Griffiths and Matt Simon ensured F3 bragging rights returned to the Coast, and the result drew the Mariners clear in the head to battles between the fierce rivals.

The 25th edition of the F3 derby began with its typical intensity as both sides defied the humidity in a frantic opening. There’s just something about derby day that embodies itself in the blood of players and their fans. In the second minute Jets’ striker Labinot Haliti scored what he thought was the opening goal, only to be correctly ruled offside.

The goal didn’t ruffle the home side though who immediately counter-attacked with their first foray into the Jets’ half for the afternoon with a stinging Pedj Bojic shot. Newcastle custodian Matthew Nash comfortably dealt with the situation, bringing to an end an enterprising sixty seconds of play.

As the match developed both sides attempted to maintain possession, and both built their attacks from the back highlighting the maturity of the Hyundai A-League in 2011/12. Thwarted by a compact Yellow and Navy defence the Jets tried to catch the Mariners off guard with shots from distance by Ryan Griffiths and Haliti.

For the home side the dynamic striking combination of Matt Simon and Bernie Ibini were enjoying some delectable service from the midfield consisting of Michael McGlinchey, John Hutchinson, Rostyn Griffiths and Mustafa Amini.

Luxuriating in a return to match fitness, Amini was beginning to perform the sublime touches of skills that saw him light up the Hyundai A-League in his debut season. In the 24th minute he unleashed a powerful strike from outside the area that forced Nash into a diving save.

The home side took full advantage of the resulting corner from McGlinchey to net the opener from the head of Rostyn Griffiths. Some deft footwork from the midfielder saw him powerfully head the ball past a stranded Nash. It was a just reward for the hard-working player whose energetic performances in both attack and defense continually frustrated the Jets.

In the shadows of halftime, Amini almost doubled the lead for the home side after dispossessing the Newcastle defence, but his shot was deflected away for a corner. It mattered little though as the home side headed to the break a goal to the good.

The second half didn’t begin with the same energetic tempo as both sides still looked to be recovering from their first period exertions. It was the home side who looked to be the more ruthless of the two combatants as they lifted the intensity seemingly at will after the first ten minutes.

Matt Simon loves scoring against the Jets, and in the 59th minute he added to his tally when he doubled the Mariners’ advantage. Amini released Ibini with a superb flick that allowed the young marksman to find his partner with a well-timed cross. The Mariners’ highest ever goal-sorer made no mistake with his finish as he blasted home for his fourth of the campaign and his sixth in all matches against the Jets.

With a 2-nil lead, the Mariners could have been forgiven for allowing thoughts to drift forward to their looming top of the table clash with Brisbane Roar next week, but that just wouldn’t be the Mariners way.

In what was a pleasing sign for Arnold, his charges didn’t take their foot off the accelerator as they continually pushed forward in search of more goals.

That third goal nearly came from the boot of Ibini with the youngster thundering a ball into the cross bar after some excellent lead-up play from Hutchinson and Rose. Ibini was at it again deep into regular time when another thunderbolt rippled the side netting.

Continual counter-attacks brought the Bluetongue faithful to their feet and highlighted the Mariners’ determination to amend what has been an Achilles heel for them in recent seasons – the ability to finish teams off late in matches.

Daniel McBreen was introduced into the attack late into the match, and he went within inches of the ultimate reward when his header crashed into the cross bar in the final minute of regular time.
Ultimately F3 derby bragging rights went to the Central Coast side with their dominant display lifting them to equal points with the table-topping Brisbane Roar. Tonight the Mariners further enhanced Fortress Bluetongue’s reputation as a tough place to visit for opposing teams.

After the match, Arnold was understandably delighted with his teams’ effort in front of a season high crowd of 10,643.

“It was a sensational performance on a difficult pitch,” Arnold said. “The boys are very confident at the moment. Rostyn Griffiths is like an orchestrator in the middle of the park”.

Despite drawing level on points with Brisbane Roar at the top of the Hyundai A-League table, Arnold highlighted that his team had plenty of improvement left in the tank.

“It’s only ten games in, and as I said before you don’t win the title at the beginning of December – we’ve still got a long way to go,” he said.

Goalscorer and arch Jets foe, Simon, said the Yellow and Navy’s concentration was not necessarily on the F3 Derby, but keeping their unbeaten, consistent run going.

“The Derby is for the fans,” Simon said. “We just want to concentrate on playing well. Our consistency is pretty good at the moment, we’re building I think we can even get better.”

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Griffiths 25’, Simon 59’)

Newcastle Jets 0

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Bernie IBINI (11. Oliver BOZANIC 88’) 14. Michael McGLINCHEY (12. Troy HEARFIELD 83’), 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI (2. Daniel McBREEN 78’)

Subs not Used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (GK)

Yellow Cards: Zwaanswijk 26’
Red Cards: None

Newcastle Jets: 19. Matthew NASH (GK), 4. Nikolai TOPOR STANLEY, 5. Tiago CALVANO, 7. Kasey WEHRMAN (22. Ali ABBAS 66’), 8. Jeremy BROCKIE, 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (C) (6. Ben KANTAROVSKI 81’), 13. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 14. Labinot HALITI (24. Francis JEFFERS 58’), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS

Subs not Used: 1. Ben KENNEDY (GK)

Yellow Cards: Haliti 12’
Red Cards: None

Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI
Crowd: 10,643 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford