Mariners Academy First Grade Men have secured the NPL2 Premiership and booked their spot in the semi-finals after thrashing Bonnyrigg 4-1 at Pluim Park over the weekend.
Harry McCarthy gave the Mariners a half-time lead when he deftly chipped the Bonnyrigg goalkeeper five minutes from the break, but White Eagles responded in the 64th minute to level proceedings and put the Premiership back up for grabs.
A second yellow card for Bradie Smith minutes later though saw him dismissed and the Mariners took full advantage of the adjusted head count.
Mikey Katsoulis burst through and rounded the keeper to score inside the final 20 minutes, and Jordan Smylie and Louis Khoury provided emphatic exclamation marks with further goals to seal the Premiership for Nick Montgomery’s team.
“I’m extremely proud of the boys,” Montgomery said post-match.
“We set the goal at the start of the season to win the league and we’ve done that in both 20’s and First Grade for the first time, and also stormed ahead on points to claim the Club Championship.
“It’s a fantastic effort in uncertain times where there’s a lot of boys who don’t know what’s going to happen next season, whether it be with the A-League, the NYL or the NPL, so amidst all of that uncertainty, the mindset of the players has been fantastic,” Montgomery said.
A team that needed no further motivation was provided it during the week, a scary moment occurring in training as goalkeeper, Luca Magetto, suffered a head knock and was knocked unconscious before being taken to hospital.
Montgomery visited the youngster over the weekend and said he had only one message for his teammates, to go out there and win.
“We had a really tough incident with Luca, just an innocuous challenge and he’s still in hospital with a fractured skull, which is something you never want to see in any sport,” Montgomery said.
“But I went to see Luca in hospital on Saturday and although he didn’t have much to say he just wanted the boys to win and that was for him today.
“We pray every day that he’s going to improve and he can be out of hospital next week, but for now, we just have to listen to the surgeons and doctors and hope he recovers fully.”
Attention now turns to finals football, and the matchup will be repeated next weekend when the Mariners take on Bonnyrigg once more for a spot in the grand final and a shot at the 2020 Championship.
Press release, Sep 28
Central Coast Mariners Media