Victory bow out of finals race


The Central Coast Mariners are through to their fourth Hyundai A-League Grand Final after overcoming Melbourne Victory 1-0 on Sunday.

The Central Coast Mariners are through to their fourth Hyundai A-League Grand Final after overcoming Melbourne Victory 1-0 on Sunday.

A sublime first-half strike from Daniel McBreen proved to be the difference between the two sides in what was a tense affair at Bluetongue Stadium.

The result means the Mariners will face the Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium next Sunday while Ange Postecoglou’s Victory will be left to ponder what could have been on a night where they struggled to create chances.

After an anxious opening period by both sides the first chance of the game fell the way of the Mariners when Mile Sterjovski found space in the area in the 14th minute and hit a left-footed drive which was well saved by Nathan Coe.

Pedj Bojic then saw a shot deflected wide for a corner as the home side stepped up the pressure on the Victory’s back four.

Victory were on the back foot again minutes later when a Michael McGlinchey corner eventually found its way to Sainsbury who had his shot brilliantly blocked from point-blank range by Coe, with McBreen flashing the rebound just wide.

It was then Victory’s turn to attack through Marco Rojas, but his low ball into the box was well held by Mat Ryan with Archie Thompson lurking at the far post.

The visitors then had a penalty shout waved away by referee Strebre Delovski after Nick Montgomery barged over Thompson in the box, with Victory having to be content with a corner.

The Mariners were finding constant joy on the left hand side with McGlinchey and Joshua Rose combining well and when Bernie Ibini had two chances in as many minutes the writing was on the wall.

The breakthrough came for the Mariners in the 42nd minute McBreen received the ball on the edge of the area from Ibini before thrashing home an unstoppable shot on his left to send the majority of the 10,651 crowd into raptures.

The second half began in much the same vein, with McBreen nearly turning home a cross that was well cleared by Daniel Mullen before Bojic flashed a shot from distance wide in the opening minutes.

Ange Postecoglou bought on Connor Pain for Marcos Flores in an attempt to breathe new life into the Victory front third and the move saw the visitors begin to control possession.

Thompson had a good chance after he created space for himself in the box and would have been disappointed to scuff his shot straight at Ryan.

Victory began to get more desperate as the clock wound down but despite getting into good positions they continued to fail to deliver the killer ball.

Not even the sending off of Montgomery for his second bookable offence in the dying minutes could lift the away side with a last minute free-kick from Marcos Rojas that hit the wall summing up the Victory’s evening.

The win is Graham Arnold’s first over Ange Postecoglou in the Hyundai A-League finals and gives his side the chance to win their first grand final.

Central Coast Mariners 1 (McBreen 42)
Melbourne Victory 0
Crowd: 10,651 @Bluetongue Stadium