Jets into final after beating Mariners - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jets into final after beating Mariners

12/08/2006 10:35:38 PM Comments (0)

Central Coast advanced to its fourth final in less than two years of existence after overcoming a 10-man Newcastle 2-1 in their A-League pre-season cup semi-final at Central Coast Stadium.

Mariners defender Paul O'Grady secured victory with a glancing header six minutes into the first period of extra time after the home side had battled back from a 1-0 halftime deficit.

The club has now qualified for all four domestic finals since the inception of the A-League.

They will meet Adelaide in the cup final at Gosford next Saturday, aiming to repeat the title they won in 2005 with victory over Perth.

Yet despite the win, Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna labelled the performance his club's worst of the pre-season.

"We cant play any worse than that," McKinna said.

"We've been happy with our form for the last four games, but today was not one of our better performances.

"You get people saying the pre-season doesn't mean nothing and you use it for fitness, but it feels good when you win and you're in the final."

Newcastle striker Vaughan Coveny opened the scoring in the 25th minute, before Mariners marksman Stewart Petrie equalised with a penalty in the 53rd minute.

The Jets played the final 42 minutes a man down after having substitute Shane Webb sent off for a tackle on Adam Kwasnik.

Socceroos striker Joel Griffiths made his first appearance in a Jets shirt, coming on as a substitute in the 62nd minute.

The 26-year-old, who joined the club from Leeds United, looked lively but could not break down the opposition defence.

Mariners marquee signing Tony Vidmar made his club debut as a substitute in the 73rd minute to a rousing reception from the home crowd.

It was the 36-year-old's first match since February after being ruled out of the World Cup with an irregular heartbeat.

Vidmar said he was more nervous before the match than when the Socceroos played Uruguay in the World Cup qualifiers.

The nerves, he said, were purely down to concerns about coming back from his health problems.

"I can go forward now, today's done," Vidmar said.

Newcastle coach Nick Theodorakopoulos was pleased with his side's fitness and passing.

"Obviously I dislike losing," he said.

"It put us in a difficult position to play with 10 men, but the display was nothing short of outstanding. The boys need to be complemented.

He was disappointed with referee Ben William's performance, and felt compassion for Webb, who he said was dejected.

"We could debate whether it was a red or yellow card," he said.

The Mariners also made the grand final of the inaugural A-League in March, and reached the decider of the Australian World Club Challenge qualifiers in July 2005. On both occasions, they lost 1-0 to Sydney FC.

Webb, who signed midweek on a four-week contract, was sent off three minutes after coming on as a substitute at halftime.

The left-sided defender, who joined the Jets as a replacement for the injured Steve Eagleton, fouled Kwasnik in the box in his first contribution to the match.

Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy saved Kwasnik's resulting penalty, but four minutes later Williams awarded the Mariners another spot-kick after Kwasnik went down in the box again.

Kennedy got a hand to Petrie's penalty but could not stop the ball hitting the back of the net.

Coveny's opener came after he collected a defence-splitting pass from strike partner Mark Bridge.

The match, played before 7567 fans, witnessed some heated challenges from both sides with Williams issuing 10 yellow cards.

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