Late Simon strike sinks Jets

The Central Coast Mariners have ended the Newcastle Jets' finals aspirations after engineering a come-from-behind 2-1 win in their Round 17 Hyundai A-League Boxing Day clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday night.

The Central Coast Mariners have ended the Newcastle Jets' finals aspirations after engineering a come-from-behind 2-1 win in their Round 17 Hyundai A-League Boxing Day clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday night.

The home side dominated the first half but only had Joel Griffiths' ninth minute penalty to show for it before a Sasho Petrovski header leveled the scores in the 66th minute. With the momentum behind them, Mariners substitute striker Matt Simon scored the winner in the 79th minute with a strong solo effort.

The win sees the Mariners move to the top of the table on 25 points with the rest of the round to still be played while the loss all but ends the Jets hopes of making the finals. The defending champions are eight points out with just four rounds remaining.

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond admitted the season was over in the post-match press conference.

"They (the Mariners) are on 25 points we are on 15, 10 points away and barring a minor miracle it is definitely over," he said.

"We spoke at half-time about trying to kill off the game like we did against Melbourne but we didn-t do that. We gave them a sniff and that is all it takes for the Central Coast to penalise you."

The Boxing Day fixture started in perfect conditions in front of one of the Jets' best home crowds of the season and it was the home side that made all the early running.

Griffiths shot just wide of the right post in just the second minute of play before he snared the opener a few moments later.

Mariners veteran Andre Gumprecht pulled down Jets winger Marko Jesic just in the edge of the area and referee Peter O'Leary had no hesitation pointing to the spot. Griffiths stepped up to the spot to fire the ball into the roof of the net to hand the home side a 1-0 lead after just nine minutes.

The Jets had a golden opportunity to double their advantage 10 minutes later when Matt Thompson charged down a clearing kick from Mariners defender Pedj Bojic 30 yards out from goal. Thomspon charged into the penalty area where he unleashed a right-footed strike which was parried away by Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic. Griffiths pounced on the loose ball but Vukovic blocked his shot with his legs to diffuse the situation.

Down the other end the Mariners had a couple of half-chances Petrovski poked a shot wide before heading over from just six yards following a pin-point cross from Dylan McAllister.

Jobe Wheelhouse, who had come on for the injured Jesic in the 18th minute, had the final chance of the first half when he got the ball in space down the right flank but he drove his shot straight into the arms of Vukovic to see the Jets head to the sheds holding a 1-0 lead.

The Jets picked up where they left off before the break creating a number of chances to threaten the Mariners goal. Griffiths shot wide before Song Jin-Hyung spooned his shot over the crossbar.

Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna brought on striker Simon to bolster the visitors' attack and the move proved beneficial as the Mariners started to engineer more attacking opportunities.

Petrovski fired over the bar before getting leveling the scores in the 66th minute. Left back Dean Heffernan took the ball to the byline before delivering a dangerous cross for Petrovski who timed his run well and head home in front of defender Jade North.

Knowing a draw was of no use to either side, both went for broke with McKinna introducing playmaker Adrian Caceras while Jets coach Gary van Egmond brought on teenage attackers James Holland and Sean Rooney.

It was some powerful work from Simon that created the winner. The lanky striker got the ball on the edge of the penalty area and shook off two defenders before firing the ball into the under Jets custodian Ante Covic and into the corner of the net.

Both sides finished with a flurry of chances. Simon shot over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy while Song did like wise from 18-yards while Elrich forced a good save from Vukovic as the visitors collected the spoils.

McKinna said the win was another great come-from-behind win for the Marainers.

"We gave away a soft penalty and then come back in the second half was a good effort," he said.

"But credit to the Jets. They had a go at us and really competed and were all us all over the park in the first half but the second half we slowly came into it and we were probably unlucky not to get a couple more at the end."

Newcastle Jets 1 (Joel Griffiths 9pen)

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Petrovski 66, Simon 79)