Mariners one game from Aussie football history after overcoming Sydney FC in chaotic Semi-Final

Central Coast Mariners have booked their spot in the Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final after surviving a Sydney FC onslaught to seal a 2-1 aggregate win at Industree Group Stadium.

In an action packed night in Gosford it was Sydney FC who had the game’s better chances, no more so than in the 67th minute where Robert Mak thought he’d broken the deadlock with his deflected shot appearing to cross the line.

However after a lengthy delay and subsequent VAR check referee Alireza Faghani ruled striker Fabio Gomes was interfering with play whilst in an offside position and subsequently gave an offside instead of awarding the goal.

To add to the drama Sydney FC had two penalties turned down in either half on a dramatic and rain-soaked night in Gosford as Mariners assistant Danny Schofield was sent off for two counts of dissent while Sky Blues’ midfielder Anthony Caceres was also sent off for dissent after the full time whistle.

The result – in front of a new record crowd of 20,059 – sees Mark Jackson’s Mariners return to the A-League Grand Final for a second season running and they’re now just one game away from completing an unprecedented treble this season having already won the Premier’s Plate and AFC Cup.

After a frenetic start to proceedings in Gosford Sydney had claims for an early penalty turned down in the sixth minute; Jordan Courtney-Perkins seemingly tripped inside the box by Dan Hall however referee Alireza Faghani waved away the protests with the action deemed to be incidental conduct.

Now seemingly in the ascendency, the away side went close to opening the scoring in the 10th minute as defender Hayden Matthews saw his close range effort deflected into the side netting before Mariners skipper Danny Vukovic then produced an excellent save just 90-seconds later to keep Sydney at bay.

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Pouncing on a loose ball down Sydney’s right, Max Burgess scampered towards the Mariners box before clever picking out Fabio Gomes with a clever reverse pass, however the Brazilian’s low shot was brilliantly saved by veteran keeper Vukovic.

Despite the temperature dropping in Gosford tempers continued to flare on the pitch and the Mariners showed signs of the pressure getting to them before the break.

First Mariners head coach Mark Jackson was booked for dissent in the 39th minute after a possible foul on Mikael Doka wasn’t given while defender Storm Roux then picked up a needless yellow card for deliberately booting a spare ball back into the heart of the action rather than out of play.

To make matters worse, Mariners assistant Danny Schofield was then sent off just three minutes into the second half after receiving two quick-fire yellow cards from Faghani.

After an apparent foul on Jacob Farrell wasn’t given Schofield made his thoughts clear towards Faghani and was promptly booked before then refusing to take his seat back in the technical area, despite being instructed to, and was subsequently given his marching orders.

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To make matters worse, Schofield then made an offensive gesture towards the pitchside camera as he made his way down the tunnel.

If the game wasn’t already at fever pitch then things exploded into life in the 62nd minute as Luke Brattan first cleared one off the line with his chance before Sydney then thought they’d taken the lead when play sprung back up the other end.

After jinking round several Mariners bodies inside the box, Sky Blues forward Mak’s deflected shot appeared to have crossed the line despite the best efforts of Kaltak but no goal was awarded on the field.

With replays suggesting the ball had indeed crossed the line Faghani was then called over by the VAR to review the incident on the pitchside monitor where, nearly four minutes after the incident occurred, the referee ultimately called the move back for offside against Fabio Gomes who was deemed to have interfered with play.

Only adding to the drama, Sydney FC then thought they were denied a clear penalty in the 77th minute when Mariners midfielder Max Balard appeared to handle the ball however the VAR cleared the incident.

Despite more late drama the Mariners held on to the draw which would see them progress through to a second-straight A-League Grand Final – and now just one game away from completing an incredible treble.