The Central Coast Mariners Academy took on Mt Druitt Town Rangers on Saturday night at Pluim Park, an important match up with the Academy side only 3 points ahead of Mt Druitt on the table.
It was a bright start from the CCMA side, and in the 10th minute they capitalised on their good start by taking the lead. Trent Buhagiar was found out wide in acres of space. He utilised his pace down the wing and cut back his cross to find Ryan Peterson on the edge of the box. Peterson scuffed his shot but Lachie Wales was there at the back post finish off the move.
After the opening goal, the game was even with both teams defending well and finding it hard to create anything clear cut. However that would soon change.
In the 22nd minute Mt Druitt found their way through the Coast's left side of defence and were through on goal. Nathan Verity attempted a desperate challenge from behind but unfortunately brought the big Mt Druitt striker down and was given a straight red card. The penalty was converted and it was all square at 1-all.
The restructure at the back saw Reece Papadimitrios drop into the backline, and unsurprisingly Mt Druitt started to gain a larger share of possesion against the 10 men Mariners as halftime drew nearer, but the Academy boys defended strongly and the opposition struggled to created chances.
With no way through the back four, it took a wonder goal by Mt Druitt from outside the box just five minutes before halftime to take the lead. The ball sailed into the top right corner leaving Adam Pearce in goals with no chance. 2-1 would be the halftime score in the Rangers' favour.
Not long after halftime Lachie Wales was played through 1 on 1 with the Mt Druitt keeper. However the Rangers' custodian made himself big, and made the save.
Once again Mt Druitt had strong spells of possesion early in the second half but couldn't break down the 10 man Academy.
As the half went on the Coast began to dominate. Chances were hard to come by but with the pace of Buhagiar, Wales and Cade Mapu who came on as a substitute, Mt Druitt would have to be aware. They could sense the tide was turning and dropped numbers behind the ball and were tough to break down.
Despite constant pressure in the last 15 minutes from the Coast the score would remain 2-1 to the visitors. One lapse in concentration at the back and a wonder goal was all that undid the Academy who can be proud of the fight they put in with 10 men, although will still be disappointed with the result.
The side returns to Pluim Park again next Sunday against Northern Tigers FC, and will be looking to get back on track as the season draws closer to the halfway point. Kick off in the NPL2 match is 3pm.
Central Coast Mariners Academy 1 (Lachlan Wales 7') Mt Druit Town Rangers 2 (Ryan Johnstone 40', Kuag Reec 16' [pen])
Red card: Nathan Verity (CCMA) 16'
- U20s: lost 0-1
- U18s: won 4-3 (E Barrett 12', L Wilson 80', J Sutherland 52', J Hornery 23')
Youth Academy - v Blacktown Spartans FC:
- U16s: won 1-0 (B Brady)
- U15s: lost 0-2
- U14s: won 3-0 (H Steele, D Newbold, E Steiner)
- U13s: lost 0-2
Women's Academy - v Inter Lions FC:
- NPL2: lost 0-2
- U17s: won 2-0 (C Dearie, T Mahon)
- U15s: won 2-1 (C Dearie 2)
- U13s: lost 1-6 (C Weinert)