The men take on the North Shore Mariners and the women face Marconi Stallions. Let’s see how our Academy sides are placed heading into their matches this weekend.
Central Coast Mariners Academy vs North Shore Mariners, 6pm, Pluim Park, Saturday 6 May
Despite a run of dominant performances this PS4 NPL 2 season, the Mariners Academy haven’t picked up the points they may have deserved.
Both sides are coming off losses last time out, with the Central Coast going down 3-1 against the Wanderers in Blacktown, while North Shore were defeated by St. George 4-3 at Northbridge Oval.
But, like their A-League Counterparts Western Sydney Wanderers, Central Coast do not focus on short-term results. Nor do they live and die by the position they occupy on the competition table. Unlike the traditional PS4 NPL 2 NSW clubs, the academy teams number one focus is on developing young talent for their Hyundai A-League sides.
"This can be quite difficult in the short term and poses a lot of questions," Cahn told Football NSW. "Do we chase short term results at the expense of the club's playing style? Or do we keep believing in what we're doing and continue developing players in the way the first team demands? It makes for some difficult questions and leaves you open to criticism from the outside. So, as a coach and as a playing group we have to be quite strong about the direction we're going in," Cahn said.
"As we've found out on many occasions this season, if you don't take your chances you always leave that window of opportunity for the opposition," Cahn said. "We've also been lacking ruthlessness required at both ends of the pitch. But, we've played some good football and I know that if we get it right on the park, we can beat teams by three or four goals. But if we get it wrong, that can be reversed," Cahn said
North Shore will probably meet Cahn's expectations of a typical mid-table NPL 2 team. Three or four decent players. A blend of youth and experience. The desire to fight for every ball. And a seriously major challenge for his team of young guns.
Up until their shock 4-3 loss to St George last weekend, North Shore were on an unbeaten streak of six matches. Their direct, high-pressing tactics, vigor and strength at set pieces has made them a force to be reckoned with. And they're fast becoming a team that nobody looks forward to playing.
Mariners Academy skipper, Steve Whyte says that confidence in the squad is high ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“The spirit in the squad is good, it always has been,” Whyte said. “We never turn on each other, and we all work hard together for each other.
“We have been playing very good football, and the boys know that. Obviously, the results haven’t been going our way but we are working harder each session and working as a unit and not individuals, to ensure the results will start coming.
“We will need to defend as a unit, as well as being patient in the front third to get three points against North Shore.
“I’m not really one to look at the table or results, but I have heard a few boys talking about North Shore and that they have been getting results against strong teams, so we are expecting a big battle on Saturday.
“They are quick in attack so we will have to be smart in defence, they are also strong at the back, so we will need to be patient and take our opportunities when they come.
Whyte says that being involved with the Hyundai A-League squad has helped him mature as a player.
“The experience was unbelievable,” Whyte said. “My first time on the bench I didn't really know what to think but I had Academy coach Ben Cahn in the change room just telling me to just relax and do my thing. It has matured me as a player, and it was a real eye opener to how close I really am to cracking into the first team.
“Although I am captain, there are 16 leaders out there for us, with the starting 11 and bench combined. I know it is only a matter of time before it will turn in our favour and we will start getting results,” Whyte said.
Marconi Stallions Women vs Central Coast Mariners Women, Sunday 7th May, 3pm, Marconi Stadium #2
The Central Coast Mariners Women have experienced a positive start to their time in the PS4 NPL Women’s Competition with positive performances in their opening two matches.
Both sides are coming off a last start loss, as Marconi went down 4-1 to Bankstown City Lions while Central Coast Mariners lost 3-1 to Sutherland Shire FA.
Last weekend, the Mariners took an early lead in the first minute of play but couldn’t hold on against Sutherland at Pluim Park. For the Yellow & Navy, Candice Phelan has bagged two goals in as many games and will look to continue her goal scoring run against the Stallions.
Another one of the Mariners new signgings, Georgia Davis has also been lethal in the opening stages of the competition having scored in the opening game from a tight angle and went agonisginly close with a strike from distance on the weekend.
It has been a stumbling start for the Stallions in NPL 2 NSW Women's with a win and a loss so they will be hoping for a win to get their season back on track.
Mariners Women’s Head Coach, Mark Yule will be hoping that his side can replicate the first half of football against Bankstown City FC Lions where their game plan was executed almost perfectly.