Edmondson brace caps epic Grand Final comeback as Mariners seal third A-League championship


Miguel Di Pizio and Ryan Edmondson struck in extra time to complete a dramatic come-from-behind 3-1 A-League Grand Final triumph for Central Coast Mariners over Melbourne Victory at Industree Group Stadium.

Edmondson got his side level in the 91st minute and sent the decider to extra time with a cool finish after Jason Geria had opened the scoring with a quality strike from outside the penalty area.

Coach of the Year Mark Jackson completed a historic treble in his first season in the A-League to add to the A-League premiership and AFC Cup trophies as the Mariners won the A-League championship for the third time in the club’s history.

Conversely, it was more heartbreak for Tony Popovic, who has now lost each of the five A-League Grand Finals he’s coached.

It was a tense opening to the decider in front of a packed house in Gosford – Victory bringing thousands of navy-clad supporters, who were situated at the Brisbane Water end of the ground.

Chances were at a premium in the opening stages with a Daniel Arzani strike from distance after Danny Vukovic’s giveaway perhaps either side’s best look at goal.

Adama Traore would be the first man in referee Alex King’s notebook, receiving a yellow card for hauling down Christian Theoharous after an exchange of passes between the Mariners winger and Josh Nisbet, but nothing came from the resulting set-piece for Mark Jackson’s team.

A nasty collision between Damien Da Silva and Alou Kuol led to a significant delay but both were able to continue despite plenty of blood gushing from both players’ heads, the pause allowing the director to go to a shot of 2013 A-League championship winner Graham Arnold in the stands.

Vukovic, the busier of the two goalkeepers, produced a quality save from Arzani’s dipping effort shortly before half-time.

Jackson went to his bench at half-time, bringing on mid-season recruit Edmodnson to replace the bandaged Kuol.

With Victory coming out of the blocks quicker to start the second half, the opening goal of the Grand Final came from an unlikely source in Jason Geria in the 50th minute.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The fullback was clinical, beating Vukovic with a powerful strike from just outside the penalty area after Jordi Valadon ignored a give-and-go with Arzani and instead beckoned Geria to shoot.

A shellshocked Mariners outfit then did well not to concede again, as the likes of Arzani and Bruno Fornaroli continued to test the home side with waves of attack. Central Coast still boasted the majority of possession but their paltry two shots on goal told the story of their misfiring attack on the biggest stage.

Miguel Di Pizio, Harry Steele and Ronald Barcellos were called upon by Jackson as the Coach of the Year searched for a way back into the game.

As to be expected from a Popovic side leading deep into the second half the shutters were well and truly up, Victory’s low block stubbornly holding out against the desperate Mariners attack. Central Coast continued to hog possession but struggled to find an avenue to equalise.

As the game ticked into injury time and home fans’ belief perhaps started to waver, Edmondson ran on to Nisbet’s quality lay off and finished cooly through a sea of legs to level the Grand Final.

King’s whistle signalled the end of the regulation 90 minutes – and away to extra time we went.

Just six minutes into the extra period Jackson’s substitutes combined to send Industree Group Stadium into raptures. Barcellos squared perfectly for Di Pizio who dispatched his strike past the hapless Paul Izzo.

In the space of just over 10 minutes of play momentum had completely changed.

Now it was the Mariners sitting back, allowing the visitors all of the possession. Pushing forward in search of a goal, Victory left themselves hopelessly exposed and it was the Englishman Edmondson scoring again to seal back-to-back championships and a historic treble for the A-League’s smallest market.

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