Melbourne City was defeated in the 2023 A-League Men’s Grand Final on Saturday night at CommBank Stadium.
An extraordinary season came to a disappointing finish at the hands of a Mariners side that proved far too good on the night.
Head Coach Rado Vidosic went with an unchanged starting XI for the Grand Final, sticking with the side that took care of Sydney FC in the second leg of the Semi Final two weeks ago.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 4. Nuno REIS, 6. Thomas LAM, 22. Curtis GOOD, 38. Jordan BOS, 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 14. Valon BERISHA, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 23. Marco TILIO, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 3. Scott JAMIESON, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 10. Florin BERENGUER, 25. Callum TALBOT, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 37. Max CAPUTO.
It would be the Mariners who had the better of the chances in the opening 20 minutes, keeping Tom Glover busy between the sticks.
Central Coast almost caught City out at the back but fortunately, Glover was able to continue his excellent run of form, denying Jason Cummings from close range by managing to get his right hand to the ball which allowed Curtis Good to execute a goal line clearance in the 8th minute
The Mariners would eventually breach the City defence, Cummings finding a way through and scoring in the 20th.
Valon Berisha copped a knock from Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic in the moments leading up to that goal, meaning City had 10 on the pitch when it conceded, which eventually forced Head Coach Rado Vidosic to make an early change.
Richard van der Venne was the man to enter the fray in the 22nd minute.
Just minutes after that change, City’s blushes were saved by Glover again, the 25-year old producing a top save to deny Marco Tulio at the near post.
Despite his best efforts, the Mariners attack continued to push forward, Central Coast scoring again through Samuel Silvera in the 34th minute.
Desperate to quickly get back into the contest, van der Venne quickly made his impact known, scoring in the 40th minute to roar City back into the contest.
While he’s renowned for scoring them himself, it was Jamie Maclaren who laid on the assist, showing great vision to cut it back into the path of van der Venne who applied the sweetest of volleys to lash it into the back of the net.
Glover continued his strong first half performance, saving arguably his best save for last, getting an outstretched boot to the ball to deny Beni N’Kololo right before the break to ensure City only trailed 2-1.
City started the second half brightly, having the better of opportunities and looking dangerous moving the ball forward, with Mathew Leckie denied by the bar in the 54th minute as he looked to drive one home on a tight angle.
van der Venne almost poked City ahead in virtually the next passage of play, sliding the ball past goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, only for Nectarios Triantis to get back in time to clear it away from goal.
Unfortunately from there the momentum went the way of the Mariners, able to run away with the contest after scoring twice from the spot in quick succession.
Your City boys will pick themselves up and shift their focus to next season, which promises plenty with another AFC Champions League campaign on the horizon.