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ALM: Mariners spoil Jets legend Hoffman’s farewell party

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The Central Coast Mariners spoiled Jason Hoffman’s farewell party after downing the Newcastle Jets 3-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.

With talk swirling around the ground that the Hunter-based club had finally secured an owner, which was denied by CEO Shane Mattiske, Rob Stanton’s men pushed the Premiers Plate favourites all the way in a thrilling A-League Men’s (ALM) F3 derby.

The scoreline didn’t reflect Newcastle’s effort in front of 9,416 spectators.

In fact, Central Coast only sealed the victory in the 87th minute.

No matter the result, the evening still belonged to Hoffman, the Jets legend.

The stalwart played 30-plus minutes in his final, and 300th, outing for Newcastle.

“I feel like we were, maybe, a bit hard done by the scoreline,” said one of the game’s best players, Clayton Taylor.

“We performed decently well.

“Obviously, we wanted to send Hoffy off in style and we put it all out there.

“On another night, the scoreline could look a bit different.

“We certainly had our chances, we just needed to put them away.”

In an entertaining opening half, the Mariners fired a couple of early shots, with Mikael Doka making Jets goalie Ryan Scott pull out all the stops.

Then Newcastle duo Reno Piscopo and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, aided by Taylor and Lachlan Bayliss respectively, went close, much to the crowd’s anguish.

The Central Coast hit the front 1-0 in the 21st minute with Alou Kuol scoring a brilliant individual goal and wrong-footing Scott.

Taylor and Kosta Grozos blazed away, too, but to no avail.

Scott then rebuffed a terrific strike by Christian Theoharous and another by Doka.

This enabled Newcastle to stay in the match at the interval.

Immediately after the break, Stamatelopoulos wrote his name in the Jets’ history books.

With Taylor providing a perfect cross, the striker headed into the back of the net for 1-all.

The goal, his 17th for 2023/24, saw him break Adam Taggart’s club record.

But, the biggest cheer occurred in the 63rd minute when Hoffman replaced an impressive Bayliss.

After a stellar 17 years, and 14 of those with Newcastle, he ran onto the stadium for the last time.

Unfortunately, the fairytale ending wasn’t to be, with Harrison Steele (82nd) and Ryan Edmondson (87th) giving the Mariners the ultimate honours.

Central Coast just needs one point from its clash with Adelaide on Wednesday 1 May to secure its third Premiers Plate.

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