2020-21 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Matt Simon (54' PEN)

Central Coast Mariners beat Newcastle Jets to go second in A-League

Coach Alen Stajcic hailed Central Coast's grit after the Central Coast Mariners fought back Newcastle Jets in a 1-0 derby victory to jump into second place in the A-League.

The Mariners overcame a cagey start to prevail courtesy of Matt Simon's 54th-minute penalty at McDonald Jones Stadium.

- A-League on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

"The type of win that it was was probably the most important," Stajcic said. "It's the first time we've really had to grind out a match, and get a result from it.

"We've been fairly dominant in a lot of matches recently and out-shooting and creating more chances within a match in most of the draws that we've had recently and today wasn't one of those cases.

"To still come up with a win and grind one out and especially in the derby, just means a real lot to us and shows that type of character that we're going to need leading into the finals."

Newcastle counterpart Craig Deans lamented the decision to award the match-winning penalty. Central Coast's Daniel Bouman got a touch on the ball before Angus Thurgate sent him sprawling, with referee Jonathan Barreiro awarding a spot-kick.

The penalty was arguably a soft one, but after a lengthy discussion with the VAR, Barreiro stuck with his original decision and Simon coolly slotted home for his 10th goal of the season.

"He made a decision that it's a penalty so it's a penalty - I think he's made a wrong decision but that's his decision so it's gonna stick," Newcastle coach Craig Deans said. "But there's gonna be a lot of penalties in football if the consistency's there in games again this week and next week and all the way through."

Stajcic empathised with Deans and said the decision could have gone either way - but noted given there was contact, it would have been difficult for the VAR to overrule the decision.

Earlier, the Jets almost took the lead inside three minutes, with Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti making a brave challenge to deny Jason Hoffman.

Newcastle had the better of the first half but after the break, the Mariners showed renewed intensity then took the lead.

O'Donovan almost equalised just five minutes after the penalty, forcing a spectacular fingertip save from Birighitti.

Newcastle's night got worse when skipper Nigel Boogaard hobbled off in the 64th minute and the Jets were unable to find an equaliser from there.

"I don't think we deserved to lose," Deans said after his side's winless run extended to 13. "... We had enough of the ball in some good areas and enough momentum in the game to score but at crucial moments in the front third we didn't get the execution right."