2020-21 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Craig Noone (59')

VAR drama as Craig Noone seals Melbourne City's first-ever Premier's Plate

Melbourne City have secured the A-League premiership after dramatically defeating Central Coast Mariners 1-0 at AAMI Park.

City sealed a first-ever A-League trophy in their 11-year history with the win, the three points taking them 10 clear of second-place Sydney FC with just three games remaining in the regular season.

Immense throughout the contest, Craig Noone delivered what proved to be the game's lone goal when he rose over defender Lewis Miller to head home an Adrian Luna cross beyond keeper Mark Birighitti in the 59th minute.

Mariners players protested furiously that Miller had been fouled by Noone, only for VAR to clear the Englishman of any wrongdoing. Their coach Alen Stajcic was shown a yellow card for his protests.

Jamie Maclaren thought he'd scored his 26th goal of the season in the 86th minute when he bundled a Stefan Colakovski cross home, only for VAR to penalise the Socceroos striker for handball in the build-up.

In heart-stopping scenes, the Mariners thought they'd earned a chance to tie things up in second-half added-time when referee Shaun Evans adjudged Aiden O'Neill to have dragged down Birighitti -- who had come up from his penalty area in a desperate search for a leveller -- as a corner was swung in. But a VAR review led to Evans overturning his initial decision -- handing City a maiden premiership.

City's previous best A-League finish was second in 2019-20, a season that ultimately ended in a Grand Final defeat to premiers Sydney FC. They are now guaranteed to host this year's decider should they qualify.

With three games remaining on their schedule, the Mariners are in a dogfight for a place in the top six -- now just five points clear of seventh-place Wellington Phoenix. They next travel to face Macarthur FC on Thursday night.