Mariners send Simon away in style

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Matt Simon ended his ecstatic career at the Central Coast Mariners scoring in not only the first minute of play but also the dying stages taking his side to a 2-0 razzle dazzle performance at Bluetongue stadium tonight against the Melbourne Victory.

The defence of the Mariners and the Victory stood spectators as one of the most open matches of the Hyundai A-league season ended in what could have been a scoring bonanza.

The fans rolled in convincingly and they were all here to see off their beloved Matt Simon for his last appearance in the blue and gold, not to be disappointed.

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The Mariners were out to prove that they were more than just the result of their young guns Bernie Ibini and Mustafa Amini who were both seeing the start of play from the bench. Partrick Zwaanswijk was also ruled out through suspension, which saw some new faces added to the Mariners starting 11.

Mariners cult hero Matt Simon lined up for tonight’s A-leage clash knowing it would be his last after a lucrative mid week signing with South Korean club Chunnam Dragons.

Simon is a club favourite who has a place in every “Marinators” heart and it didn’t take long to establish his rights for a well-deserved exit from the club and the league as the Mariners all time top goal scorer ending the match on a tally of 36 goals.

It was 17 seconds into the beginning of play and Simon kicked off the fairy tail finish to his A-league run with a goal that could be noted as the easiest and most emotional of his career.

A defensive blunder through Vargas and Franjic saw Troy Hearfield gifted possession inside the Victory six yard box who slotted a pin point pass to Simon who was never going to miss the back of the net.

Simon’s response was tell tail as he almost ripped the Mariners logo off the right chest of his jersey saluting his friends, family and supporters in bay 24 of Bluetongue Stadium before the clock had a chance to click 30 seconds.

It wasn’t long until the Victory had a chance to strike back as skipper Archie Thompson slipped a ball in behind the Mariners defence that allowed Carlos Hernandez with a one on one from a tough angle, which found the chest keeper of Matthew Ryan.

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The next 10 minutes and eventually the entire match were end to end as both sides had promising chances at either end of the pitch through the likes of Carlos Hernandez and Simon on the back of classy ball play through Harry Kewell and Pedj Bojic.

Both keepers proved that they were up to the test providing one on one saves for both teams.

The end-to-end action continued as both teams traded blows, throwing in a long-range strike from Kewell and a sneaky touch on from the head of Simon.

In the 23rd minute the Mariners looked certain to double their lead as Bojic bent in a dangerous cross that was hit first time by Hearfield denied only by the outstretched palms of Ante Covic.

The pitch quality was an area that was criticized before kick off however it didn’t seem to shut down the impressive attacking flare of the Mariners who started to gain strong momentum piling on several chances towards the end of the second half.

Despite glimses of promising play from the Victory, momentum was enough to roll the Mariners one goal up at the break with Melbourne looking far from effective in defence.

In the second half both teams were keen to get on with play as long range shots were again fired at either end, both missing the target by a mile and taking the attention away from the referees half time costume change.

Attention was immediately back onto the officials after a convincing hand ball shout by the Mariners was waved away by Peter Green who ruled that Vargas challenged fairly within his own area. Replays may have suggested other wise.

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Simon was igniting the crowd with every touch, and rightfully so, as his powerful shot from distance and angle in the 54th minute was pushed away by a top Covic save. Simon was not just troubling the Victory Keeper but also the back four as his impressive shooting was matched with probing crosses to Hearfield and McBreen who were presented with assuring chances up front.

As Bernie Ibini stepped on the pitch he looked to get involved early jumping on the end of wonderful Mariners team play that built from half way, a few minutes later he launched an impressive counter attack of his own but his power lacked shot and found the gloves of a busy Ante Kovic.

Michael McGlinchey has provided for the yellow and gold all year and mid way through the second half he played Ibini into a mouth watering opportunity however he drove the ball into the up right which was a chance that may have sealed the match.

Following suit for the previous 75 minutes, play immediately resumed at the opposing end as Thompson and substitute Allsopp fired near misses at the Mariners net.

Ending the Hollywood finish to his emotional journey at the Mariners and through the A-league, Matt Simon netted himself his second for the night as he walked off the field to the biggest standing ovation that Bluetongue stadium has ever seen with a tear of joy and closure in his eye.

The Mariners are now 6 points clear at the top of the table, all the best for Matt Simon in his endeavours over seas and we hope this isn’t the last time he plays in the A-league.

Matt Simon left the pitch to a guard of honour created by players and coaching staff.

Central Coast Mariners: 1 Matthew Ryan (GK), 2 Daniel McBreen, 3 Joshua Rose, 4 Pedj Bojic, 7 John Hutchinson, 11 Oliver Bozanic, 12 Troy Hearfield, 14 Michael McGlinchey, 16 Trent Sainsbury, 18 Alex Wilkinson (C), 19 Matthew Simon.

Central Coast Mariners SUBS: 9 Bernie Ibini ’61 (12 Troy Hearfield), 22 Mustafa Amini ’88 (19 Matthew Simon), 5 Bradley Porter ‘90 (14 Michael McGlinchey)

Melbourne Victory: 2 Matthew Foschini, 4 Petar Franjic, 6 Leigh Broxham, 8 Grant Brebner, 10 Archie Thompson (C), 12 Rodrigo Vargas, 13 Diego Ferreira, 16 Carlos Hernandez, 19 Isaka Cernak, 21 Ante Covic (GK), 22 Harry Kewell.

Melbourne Victory SUBS: 11 Marco Rojas ‘66 (19 Isaka Cernak), 18 Danny Allsopp ‘75 (22 Harry Kewell)

Attendance: 12 284

The Football Sack‘s ‘Player of the Year’ points:

3 Matt Simon
2 Pedj Bojic
1 Troy Hearfield

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