The Central Coast Mariners stamped their ticket to the 2014 FFA Cup Semi-Finals with aplomb on Tuesday night as they trounced Palm Beach Sharks 5-0 at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast. The match was fairly tight on the scoreboard until the addition of Matt Sim in the 72nd minute as he went on to score four goals to tear the Sharks apart.
While the scores were tight until Sim came on the field, the Mariners were well and truly the dominant side as Palm Beach opted for a defensive set-up to try and hold the Mariners out. After a derby on Saturday the Central Coast had fielded a mixed XI but given the phenomenal performances of this squad, coach Phil Moss will have quite a headache ahead of their match with Wellington on the weekend.
The Mariners dominated the match from beginning to end, holding 70% possession in the first half but the Palm Beach defense held firm. Despite the stern defense from the Sharks the Mariners quality proved too much and their goal came in the 28th minute.
Glen Tirifiro was impressive for the Central Coast Mariners and he was vital in the set-up of that opening goal. Tirifiro sent the ball in for IsakaCernak, who was able to run on to the ball and hit it powerfully out of the reach of the keeper to make it 1-0.
Despite going a goal down Palm Beach were determined to stick to their defensive style for the match and operate on the counter. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the Mariners just would not give away possession as they were unable to even get a shot away in the first half.
Central Coast were almost relentless in the attack as they constantly peppered the Palm Beach goal throughout the first half. Despite that absolute domination from the Central Coast they couldn’t find another goal as they went to the break just 1-0 up.
The trend continued in the second half as the Mariners completely dominated the match but Palm Beach still remained defensive. As time wore on the Queensland NPL side began to tire and that seemed to give the Mariners an opening.
That opening didn’t come until after Sim came on in the 72nd minute and with his first touch of the ball made it 2-0. Tirifiro hit in a shot that was only parried away by the keeper which allowed Sim to run on to the ball and score the tap-in.
Just three minutes later the Mariners finally sealed the match as they had their third goal and yet again it was Tirifiro and Sim who made it happen. This time it was a through-ball as Tirifiro sent a ball through the Palm Beach defense, allowing Sim to run on to it and sneak the ball under the keeper.
Sim wasn’t done and he had his hat-trick in the 90th minute as he was again showing his striker’s instincts as he managed another goal. Nick Fitgerald sent in a powerful cross that Palm Beach didn’t deal with, allowing Sim to run in and sneak it home, which was the fastest hat-trick in FFA Cup history, 18 minutes from entering play to scoring his third goal.
But the Mariners were still not done as Sim grabbed another goal in stoppage time, becoming the first player to score four goals in an FFA Cup match. This time it was all Sim as he made a phenomenal run through an exhausted Palm Beach defense and he then easily sent it past the keeper for the 5-0 win.