Mariners force Phoenix to settle for second after a wet win against Adelaide

posted in: A-League (Men), News

The Wellington Phoenix will have to wait till late Sunday evening to learn who’ll they’ll meet in the two-legged semi-final for the men’s A-League finals series.

The Phoenix were consigned to finish runners-up in the regular season competition when Central Coast Mariners beat Adelaide United in the rain at Gosford on Wednesday night to clinch the Premiers Plate.

The result means the Phoenix will face the highest-ranked (by league table placing) winner of the two elimination finals to be played over the weekend of May 4-5.

To win the plate, the Phoenix needed Adelaide to beat the Mariners, but it was not to be.

After dominating the game for the first half hour, Adelaide could not convert a run of goal opportunities and Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic kept his side’s hopes alive with a string of saves.

Main photo: Mariners captain Danny Vukovic punches the air with delight at the final whistle.

The sucker punch came after 36 minutes when Jacob Farrell headed the Mariners into the lead, easing nerves and starting a resurgence for the home side.

Max Balard doubled the Mariners’ lead in the 76th minute when he seized on a poor Adelaide pass across their backline, drilling it into the net.

Max Balard runs to Mariners supporters after scoring his side’s second goal.

As the rain poured down, the Mariners were content to run down the clock and, eventually, the final whistle went, giving them their first Premiers Plate in 12 years.

Importantly, it means they’ll meet the lowest-ranked winner from the elimination finals in their two-legged semi-final, and they’ll host the grand final if they reach it, regardless who they meet.

The Phoenix have to wait for this weekend’s elimination finals to discover who they’ll play in their two-legged semi-final.

Their opponents won’t be confirmed till the final whistle of the second elimination final, between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, which will finish between 8.50pm and 10pm (NZT) on Sunday, depending on whether the result is settled in 90 minutes or requires a tiebreaker.

Watch the highlights


Game played on Wednesday May 1, 2024

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Jacob Farrell 36′, Max Balard 76′)
Adelaide United 0

Central Coast Mariners … winners of the Premiers Plate.

Final table


Team rankings in brackets, based on final table position

Elimination final 1

Game to be played on Saturday May 4, 2024

Sydney (4) v Macarthur (5)
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, 9.45pm (NZT)

Elimination final 2

Game to be played on Sunday May 5, 2024

Melbourne Victory (3) v Melbourne City (6)
AAMI Park, 7pm (NZT)

Semi-final fixtures

The first leg of the semi-finals will be played over the weekend of Friday May 10 – Sunday May 12, 2024

Semi-final 1, first leg

Lowest-ranked elimination finals winner v Central Coast Mariners

Semi-final 2, first leg

Highest-ranked elimination finals winner v Wellington Phoenix

Semi-final 1, second leg

Game to be played on Saturday May 18, 2024

Central Coast Mariners v lower-ranked elimination finals winner
Industree Group Stadium, Gosford, 9.45pm (NZT)

Semi-final 2, second leg

Game to be played on Saturday May 18, 2024

Wellington Phoenix v highest-ranked elimination finals winners
Sky Stadium, Wellington, 6.30pm (NZT)

Grand final

Game to be played on Saturday May 25, 2024

Winner semi-final 1 v winner semi-final 2
Highest ranked semi-final winner to host game

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