McGree breaks Mariners hearts to put Adelaide in fourth Final
Riley McGree's 89th minute winner broke the hearts of 10-man Central Coast Mariners and put Adelaide United into their fourth FFA Cup Final.
McGree's late finish helped the defending champions and 2014 winners book another ticket to the big dance after coming from behind to seal a 2-1 victory in Gosford.
Adelaide will host Melbourne City in the Final on Wednesday, 23 October at Coopers Stadium.
Alen Stajcic's Mariners had one foot in their first ever Final after Jack Clisby's free-kick sailed over Adelaide's debutant 'keeper Isaac Richards on the hour mark.
But the hosts were reduced to 10 players following Matt Simon's second bookable offence, and paid the price when George Blackwood's cool finish levelled things two minutes after the Mariners' skipper's dismissal.
McGree compounded misery on the Central Coast by taking Kristian Opseth's sumptious flick in his stride and burying the winner past Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti at the near post.
- A breathless, end-to-end start saw both teams fly out of the blocks, and a fine piece of last-ditch defending from Adelaide defender Jordan Elsey stopped Samuel Silvera from breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes. The 18-year-old - who scored his first professional goal in the Mariners' Round of 16 win against Brisbane Roar - headed Jordan Murray's cross toward goal unmarked, but Elsey headed it onto the bar spectacularly.
- McGree had several shots in anger on the night - his first was adeptly parried by Mariners 'keeper Mark Birighitti after the Adelaide starlet was set up on the edge of the box by Blackwood.
- Opseth, on his first start for Adelaide, was next to trouble Birighitti after the half time break. The Norwegian did well to adjust to Al Hassan Toure's cross but could only claw the teenager's cutback onto the post.
- And just seconds later, Jordan Murray was denied a gilt-edged chance by Richards. Tommy Oar pounced on a Reds giveaway and found Murray through on goal, but the Adelaide man came off with a blinding one-on-one save.
- But soon after denying the Mariners No. 9, Richards was left red-faced. The shot stopper attempted to claim Clisby's free-kick from wide but was caught in no man's land, with the full-back's cross sailing into the net on 63 minutes.
- Blackwood was the next Red to hit the woodwork, and when Simon was given his marching orders for his second yellow of the evening, the Australian youth international fired in the equaliser after Nikola Mileusnic's barnstorming run and centre.
- The Mariners tried to hold on, but were undone by a cute flick from Opseth which sent McGree bursting into the box, where he sent the Adelaide into their fourth Final.