This year’s National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s Grand Final will be contested at Valentine Sports Park by Central Coast Mariners and Northern Tigers – two teams with a thrilling, attacking brand of football.
It’s a battle between the youngsters from the Coast and the football superstars from the northern suburbs, who will prevail at Football NSW headquarters?
Central Coast Mariners v Northern Tigers, 5:00pm Saturday 10 October, Valentine Sports Park No. 1
We’re set for a classic if this is anything like Round 4: the Mariners sailed into an early two goal lead, Northern Tigers came roaring back in the second half to level the scores, before a strike with six minutes remaining sealed victory for Central Coast. However, prior to that game the Tigers won three in a row against the Mariners, including a 2018 finals victory with ten men and a triumph in Round 26 round of last season which secured a finals place at Central Coast’s expense.
As you would expect, both teams are in peak form: the Mariners have won five in a row, and Northern Tigers have six victories and a draw in their last seven outings.
This game has special significance for Jordan Smylie. The Mariners forward was the Tigers’ leading scorer in 2017 and still has strong links with the northern suburbs – he coaches the U13s at Berowra FC, his junior club. In 2020, Smylie has risen like a phoenix after missing games to make key contributions in each of the last two matches.
Amongst the multitude of Mariners attacking threats, Damian Tsekenis has provided plenty of magic in his first season with Central Coast, while Michael Katsoulis is fleet footed, whether he’s running with the ball or dancing to celebrate goals.
Valentine Sports Park has seen plenty of classy midfielders: the midfield duo of Max Balard and Harrison Steele will continue that trend as they fight for control in the centre of the park. At the back, Cameron Windust and Jacob Farrell have stepped up from the U20s and performed admirably.
The Tigers will be looking to repeat their 2015 Grand Final exploits, where Shervin Adeli opened the scoring with an incredible volley and also netted an 84th minute winner to ensure a 2-1 victory over Bankstown City. Lucas Dawson (now on 198 1st Grade appearances for Northern Tigers), Liam McConaghy and assistant coach Michael Rolston were also part of the 2015 squad.
Adeli has been in all-star form, scoring in each of the last four games. Northern Tigers have many forwards who can send the ball arrowing past goalkeepers, but their attack offers more than just shooting and when they’re on fire the interplay has terrified many defences.
Everyone loves ball playing centre backs, so enjoy William Foristal and Nicholas Kalogerou as they can both hit pinpoint diagonal passes and brush off opposing forwards. Matthew Warner and Nikola Krljar were also brilliant at right back and left back respectively in the semi-final win over Spirit FC.
By Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)
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