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 By AAP

Adelaide United's Michael Marrone sees four-game ban reduced by FFA

Adelaide United's Michael Marrone has seen his four-match ban reduced after the FFA Cup final incident with a ball boy.

Marrone had been seeking to take a quick throw-in during extra time against Sydney FC but the ball boy -- who later joined in Sydney's victory celebrations and was given a winner's medal by Michael Zullo -- did not give the ball back.

The defender, 30, tried to take it off him but the ball boy turned away and, in so doing, fell to the ground under the weight of the player's momentum.

Marrone's sentence was shortened to just two matches after he faced Football Federation Australia's independent disciplinary and ethics committee in Sydney on Tuesday night.

Having already served his mandatory match suspension for the red card he was shown, Marrone will only miss the match against Sydney FC on Dec. 1 before he'll be free to return against Melbourne Victory on Dec. 8. Adelaide said they accepted the result.

In dealing out the punishment for serious unsporting conduct, the committee took into account Marrone's near-perfect disciplinary record featuring a single previous red card across 188 professional games.

It also acknowledged the incident had occurred in the 115th minute of a cup final -- a moment of particularly heightened tension -- given the Reds had just conceded a goal putting them 2-1 down to eventual winners Sydney FC.

Marrone fight Adelaide Sydney 171121
Tensions between Adelaide and Sydney heated up on the pitch after the ball boy incident in the 2017 FFA Cup final.

Interim Adelaide chief executive Nathan Kosmina emphasised that the right-back did not retaliate to Matt Simon's furious reaction nor contribute to the ensuing melee.

Marrone also made an immediate effort to apologise to the ball boy and later emailed his family directly to express his remorse.

"It doesn't look good," Marrone said at the hearing.

"But at the time I just wanted to get the ball back. I was motioning for the ball, and at the one point it seemed like he wasn't going to give me the ball.

"You can see what happened which was unfortunate. I shouldn't have touched him.

"I just wanted to take a throw-in, there wasn't much time left. I thought, I'm going to grab the ball off him.

"I thought I was just going to be able to take it from his hands, but he moved and it looked very ugly."

The disciplinary committee agreed Marrone should have taken another course of action.

But while it focused only on Marrone's actions, FFA's disciplinary counsel Ivan Griscti suggested the ball boy may not have been completely innocent.

"He seems to start limping... he grabs his thigh," Griscti said.

Teammates have rallied around Marrone amid fierce media criticism, while the players' union argue he should never have been cited.

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