The Central Coast Mariners will go into next weekĺ─˘s opening round of the Hyundai A-League season with a great deal of confidence, after capturing the Pre-Season Cup with a 1-0 win over Perth Glory at Central Coast Stadium.
A goal from Scotsman Stewart Petrie in the 38th minute, sealed the win for the Mariners.
The two teams meet again in six days time, although this time in front of a full house in Perth and with Glory expected to field a fairly different team from the one that took the park in Gosford.
Typical of finals, the match itself never reached any great heights, with chances kept to a minimum.
It was a match that the Mariners probably should have won more comfortably, as some of their build up play was superb, but all too often the final ball into the penalty box let them down.
Perth, without the influential Bobby Despotovski through suspension, rarely troubled Mariners keeper John Crawley
ĺ─˙Overall I am just happy to get the win," said a relieved Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna. "Now we are looking forward to next week going to Perth.ĺ─¨
ĺ─˙We had some great one touch football and we opened them up a few times and just that final pass let us down,ĺ─¨ said McKinna. ĺ─˙Hopefully next week some of those stick.ĺ─¨
The win though was extra special for local boy Damien Brown, who again provided excellent service down the left.
ĺ─˙To win a final in my home town, the family is up there (in the stands), itĺ─˘s the best moment I have ever had,ĺ─¨ said a very elated Brown.
The Mariners took a 1-0 half time when substitute Petrie headed home from a metre out in the 38th minute. He capitalized on good work by Noel Spencer at the far post, when his hooked-in cross took a deflection and ballooned to a grateful Petrie, who dived in to head home.
The goal came from a corner, following a magnificent save by Glory keeper Jason Petkovic, who at full stretch turned away a goal bound rocket from Matthew Osman.
Up until then the game lacked any chances of note, although the endeavour of both teams could not be faulted.
Most of the rare moments came to the home side with Petkovic denying Nick Mrdja before the striker was forced off, obviously troubled by a right knee injury, while Dean Heffernan skied a shot over the bar.
Solomon Islands and Glory striker Henry Faĺ─˘Arodo was an inch away from giving Glory the lead in the 28th minute, but just failed to get a touch to Matt Horsley ball into the middle.
However the after the goal the match suddenly saw a host of chances, with Petkovic saving well down low to deny a terrific strike from Pondeljak.
A minute before the break, Perth went close to leveling it all up, when last weekĺ─˘s hero Nick Ward skimmed the crossbar with a brilliant curling effort, after he had neatly cut back inside.
The second half proved an arm wrestle, with Perth unable to crack the solid Central Coast defence.
Perth best chance of the second half came on the hour when a Billy Celeski free kick, cleared the wall but John Crawley was able to save comfortably.
Osman should have wrapped it up for the Mariners with 10 to go when presented with great chance by Spencer, but he took a touch when should have hit first time and his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Glory coach Steve McMahon was quick to congratulate the Mariners, but was able to take a lot of positives from the performance, especially with three or four players out.
ĺ─˙Congratulations to them, they caused us a few problems in the first half, but I thought it was even contest in the end. It was a good game,ĺ─¨ MacMahon said.
McMahon will welcome back Bobby Despotovski, Steve McMahon Jnr, Jamie Harnwell, while Brian Deane should be available after arriving in Perth today.