A late venue switch wasn't enough to unsettle the Central Coast Mariners Academy PS4 NPL2 NSW side, with the Yellow and Navy securing a 4-2 win over Blacktown Spartans at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday.
Central Coast Mariners 4 (Sullu Kamara, Lachlan Wales, Michael Glassock, Gianni Stensness) Blacktown Spartans 2 (Kojiro Hori, Michael Konestabo)
The win sees Ben Cahn's Mariners climb past arch rivals Western Sydney Wanderers into third place on the Premiership ladder, their highest position of the season.
The Spartans shocked the Mariners when Kojiro Hori opened the scoring from a free kick on the edge of the box in the ninth minute. But Central Coast hit back quickly through Sullu Kamara four minutes later. Filling in for the injured Duncan Stewart, Kamara received a neat pass from James Enticknap before rounding the keeper to score, a memorable moment on his first grade debut.
Lachlan Wales then gave the Mariners the lead in the 26th minute, completing a fine solo run before curling the ball into the top corner of the net. But the Spartans refused to surrender and just six minutes shy of halftime Michael Konestabo embarked on a solo run of his own before striking home the equaliser.
The two sides went to the break at two-all and Cahn was upset that his youngsters had allowed Konestabo to slice through them like a knife through butter.
"The Spartans' goal was a good solo run and a nice finish but from our perspective it was poorly defended," Cahn told Football NSW. "The whole move was poorly defended and I was really disappointed with that one and it left a sour taste in the mouth going into halftime."
Cahn added that he knew the Spartans would sit very deep and put a lot of numbers behind the ball.
"Their only threat was long balls on the counter attack and while they caught us a couple of times we were always in full control."
Reece Papas joined the action in the second half and made an immediate impact, delivering a corner for Michael Glassock to score the third goal, before Gianni Stensness rifled home his side's fourth goal with a shot from the edge of the box at the death.
When asked what impressed him the most about the win, Cahn replied:
"Knowing that there was a late change of venue, which didn't suit us at all because we had to travel to Sydney for our 'home' game worried us. The change took us away from a surface that we like to play on. But all things considered, the game plan was good, and even though they frustrated us for long periods and got themselves ahead and then back in the game, we still kept believing and kept trying to do the right things.
"Apart from the two goals they scored and a couple of other passages that were sloppy, everybody chipped in and I was really happy with the overall performance."
Central Coast Mariners Academy are back at home this coming Saturday when they host Hills Brumbies at Pluim Park. Kickoff in 1sts is at 5:00pm.
Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
Sunday 11 June 2017
NOTE: Under 20's, Under 18's and all Women's Academy fixtures were washed out.