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Bid for treble glory keeps Mariners celebrations on ice

3 minute read

Central Coast Mariners are refusing to celebrate their trophy-laden season as they look to add the A-League Men championship to their collection.

Central Coast Mariners have kept a lid on their trophy celebrations as they look to complete their quest to win a third piece of silverware in the space of a month and carve out a place in Australian football history.

The Mariners are just two games from the A-League Men grand final and face Sydney FC on Friday in the first leg of their semi-final play-off at Allianz Stadium.

Mark Jackson's side have had only a handful of training sessions back home in Gosford since lifting the AFC Cup with a win over Lebanese side Al Ahed in Oman earlier this week.

That continental triumph came just four days after Central Coast clinched the premiers' plate with a home win over Adelaide United - but the Mariners have barely had time to take in their achievements.

Spare a thought for the staff of the region's pubs, who are likely to be under the pump if the Mariners get past Sydney and go on to clinch a second successive ALM championship.

"We set out a goal to win every trophy we can, we've got two of the three and we'll be doing everything we can to get the third," midfielder Max Balard said.

"After the premiers' plate we flew straight out to Oman, and then then ... we flew straight back to Australia.

"Now we're ready for the third, the grand final if we get there, and then we can celebrate that."

Sydney will relish the chance to spoil the party but their task has been made harder by the absence of goalscoring English winger Joe Lolley, who is sidelined with a hamstring issue.

"I don't like to see players missing games, we know they're not just a one-player team," Jackson said.

"Their style of play helps with how they win football matches ... and we know the threat they have."

The Mariners have yet to beat Sydney this season, and while Sky Blues captain Luke Brattan remains under a cloud the home side are banking on their experience in clutch moments to take a lead into the second leg in Gosford.

"We're a very good team and when we play in the big games, we tend to turn up and really put on a bit of a show," Sydney right-back Rhyan Grant said.

"This being a big finals game, I think we'll show up and bring our best game - which we've done a few times this year.

"I don't know what the secret is, we just love a big game."

Friday's meeting is the first time the two clubs have met in a finals series since the inaugural ALM showpiece match in 2006 when Sydney legend Steve Corica scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Sky Blues.

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