Mariners clinch ALM premiership with win over Adelaide

George Clarke |

Jacob Farrell (c) celebrates after scoring the Mariners’ opening goal against Adelaide United.
Jacob Farrell (c) celebrates after scoring the Mariners’ opening goal against Adelaide United.

Mark Jackson wants Central Coast Mariners’ A-League Men Premiers’ Plate victory to be the start of a trophy-laden month for the club after wrapping up top spot with a 2-0 win over Adelaide.

Jackson, who had big shoes to fill when he replaced Nick Montgomery on the eve of the A-League Men season, was beaming with pride after goals from Jacob Farrell and Max Balard secured a first-place finish for the Mariners on Wednesday.

It is the first time in 12 years – Graham Arnold was in charge of the club then – that the Central Coast have finished a regular season top of the table.

But Jackson isn’t satisfied yet.

Less than 12 hours after their rain-soaked win over the Reds at Industree Group Stadium in Gosford, the Mariners will be on a plane to Oman for their AFC Cup final against Lebanese side Al Ahed (Sunday 2am AEST).

If they succeed there then a potential berth in an ALM grand final awaits with the chance to complete a rare treble on offer.

“That’s our mentality, we said to the players a while back that opportunities don’t often come around to win a trophy,” Jackson said.

“To be in a position where we can win a treble – that might not happen again.

“We’re going to do everything we can to take that opportunity and leave it all out on the table.

“If we fall at the next hurdle we’ll do it by trying to play our way.” 

The Mariners clinched the first of their three trophies with ease, but they have had to fight for first place all season.

Jackson’s men have been in a running battle with Wellington Phoenix all season and a loss would have handed the Kiwi outfit their first premiership.

Farrell
Jacob Farrell (c) celebrates after scoring the Mariners’ opening goal against Adelaide United. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

But after weathering a storm from Adelaide – and the elements – the Mariners pinched a first-half lead through workmanlike leftback Farrell when he headed in a 36th minute free-kick.

Nestory Irankunda, who was playing his last game for Adelaide before heading to Bayern Munich, threatened regularly for the Reds and forced a fingertip save from Danny Vukovic.

But as the 18-year-old Irankunda became increasingly frustrated as the night wore on, the Mariners clicked into gear, going up the other end where Balard clinched the win and the premier’s plate. 

“I’m made up … but I’m delighted for everyone at the club,” Jackson said. 

“The supporters, people behind the scenes, the players, I can’t do anything by myself.

“I have to have good staff around me who believe in what we want to achieve.”

AAP