Last weekend, the under 18’s side received a much-deserved week off after claiming the minor premiership by a resounding 11 points ahead of the Western Sydney Wanderers Academy who finished in second place.
However, it is back to business this weekend at Lambert Park. Kick-off for the side’s finals series clash is 5pm.
The Central Coast Mariners Academy Under 18’s outfit head into the finals series with an impressive 23 wins, 2 draws and just the one loss.
Marconi finished the regular season in 4th place and dismantled the Mounties Wanderers 4-1 last weekend to set up this weekend’s semi-final clash.
It has been an outstanding season for Peter Preston’s men, which has included 110 goals in 26 games. Strikers Jed Hornery (16 goals in 19 games) and Matthew Cahill (14 goals in 12 games) have been scoring for fun and had ample support from Kyle Johnson and Jarryd Sutherland who both have 10 goals to their name.
The previous two fixtures between these two sides have both gone in favour of the Academy. In round one, all that separated the two sides was an own goal, as CCMA won 1-0. In round 14 the Academy did what most teams in the PS4 NPL 2 U18’s competition couldn’t, defeat the Stallions on their home turf whilst keeping a clean sheet, winning 4-0.
The slickness of the synthetic ground at Lambert Park should suit the Mariners fast-paced, attacking playing style and CCMA will no doubt be looking to get on the front foot from the opening whistle.
Marconi enter this Saturday’s fixture on the back of four unbeaten games, whilst the Mariners, who have enjoyed a weekend off, are unbeaten in their last nine outings.
The winner of this weekend’s game will progress through to the Grand Final, and face either the Western Sydney Wanderers Academy or the Northern Tigers, who face each other on Saturday evening at Sydney United Sports Centre.
Coach Peter Preston praised the comradery in his squad during their successful season.
“There is a real togetherness in the squad, players come in and out of the 18’s and no matter who it is they all seem to play for each other,” Preston said. “The movements between the three grades has been good because it has allowed good opportunities for players to play.
“As a coach it is very enjoyable knowing that players are doing well and being promoted into the higher grades, it is good for not only the players but also the club. In the 18’s we have always said to the playing squad that if they are doing the right things, better opportunities will present themselves and the results will be forthcoming.
When asked about whether or not the weekend off is beneficial to the players, Preston said it can go either way.
“It is always a hard question to answer because if you win you can say yes it was good to rest the legs, but if the result doesn’t go your way then people say the week off hurt,” Preston said. “What I can say about my squad is that we trained on the weekend and tried to recreate game scenarios for players to ensure they are kept up to the speed of a real game. We did everything we possibly could to give ourselves the best chance for this weekend’s game.
“They like to play a possession based game and can starve teams of the ball for long periods. For us, it’s about being disciplined both with and without the ball.
“We have a fully fit squad for this weekend’s game which is a huge bonus, but as always we will pick 15 guys who we think can best execute the game plan we have,” Preston said.
Saturday 9th September 2017
PlayStation NPL U18’s Men’s 2 Semi Final
Match: Central Coast Mariners Academy vs Marconi Stallions
Venue: Lambert Park