Mariners dark campaign continues to the last second

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The Mariners proved that they still have a lot to learn going down 4-2 against the Newcastle Jets in the F3 Derby and final match of the season.

Mariners’ goalkeeper Paul Izzo was knocked unconscious 38 seconds in after copping a brutal but unintentional elbow from Newcastle’s Ryan Kitto. His assist helped Morten Nordstrand open the scoring for the Jets after what was perhaps the most dramatic opening minute in A-League history.

Fifteen minutes in the visitors had extended their lead with Kitto winning many friends from his second assist to help Enver Alivodic find the net.

Mariners’ Fabio Ferreira was back to the starting eleven this week and looked eager to return the pressure but his efforts were to no avail after Roy O’Donovan’s attempt went over the bar. Ferreira’s next attempt saw him come centimetres to the net but a flick of his boot sent it wide.

Newcastle’s Alivodic could have increased their lead to three or even four nil, but two glorious saves by the Mariners teenage goalie replacement Adam Pearce stopped the onslaught. Newcastle’s keeper Mark Birighitti had had a quieter night until the final minutes of the first half when Garcia finished into an open net. Much to the dismay of Mariners fans, the goal was disallowed, the Mariners hitting the sheds two down after the first 45.

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Five minutes into a fast-paced second half Ferreira snatched the point he’d been itching for off a penalty thanks to a controversial handball by Ben Kantarovski.

But Scott Miller’s men weren’t having a home-side comeback, with Leonardo Santiago preparing Kitto for his third assist of the game and Nordstrom for his second tidy finish making the scoreboard 3-1.

In a move that raised eyebrows, Kitto was replaced by Newcastle’s Andy Brennan with half an hour to go while Matt Fletcher replaced Mitch Austin who finished the season with an usually off night.

Ferreira looked determined to boost the score with two more attempts at the net, but it was new dad O’Donovan who grabbed the point with a spectacular header off a quality assist from Garcia.

It wasn’t the end of Newcastle’s pursuit: Captain Mateo Poljak’s quick response made it four for the visitors who collected the victory against the Mariners two points.

Mariners marquee Luis Garcia was substituted off to a standing ovation by fans in what was most likely his final match for the Yellow and Navy. While the experience of the Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid great might not have translated to points on the field, his influence was surely a highlight of the sixteen young players who have made their A-League debut under Tony Walmsley.

The Jets may have taken home their second F3 Derby win this season but they too miss out on a finals spot for the sixth straight season.

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Jade Toomey
A 20 year old Media and Law student trying to tame those stream-of-consciousness writing habits with an ickle bit of fun at the Central Coast Mariners.