Mariners Youth continue unbeaten run

The Central Coast Mariners NYL side has continued its undefeated start to the season, sharing an entertaining 2-all draw with the Australian Institute of Sport.

The Central Coast Mariners NYL side has continued its undefeated start to the season, sharing an entertaining 2-all draw with the Australian Institute of Sport.

All four goals came late in the first half, as heavy rain played havoc in a scoreless second stanza.

"Credit to the AIS, they were much the better side in the first half. We set our stall out to get a clean sheet, and we were very disappointing in the first half, and players that stood up last week didn-t have the best start to the game this week," said National Youth League head coach Tony Walmsley.

"We came back into it in the second half and probably shaded them in the second half, and could have snatched it late on, but we-ll take a draw, because we were outplayed for half a game."

The Mariners were aiming to keep their undefeated start to the new season going, and captain Panni Nikas had the chance to add to his already impressive goal tally in just the fifth minute, when he volleyed wide after latching on to a good ball in from Matthew Lewis down the left.

At the other end, AIS striker Eli Babalj was looking dangerous, heading over from 12 yards, while AIS ‘keeper Lawrence Thomas had to punch clear a dangerous Nikas free-kick at the other end.

Andrew Redmayne, on his return from international duty with the Qantas young Socceroos at the Under 20-s FFIA World Cup, was forced into making a clinical one-on-one save when Babalj found himself through on 27 minutes, who then fired wide three minutes later.

It was the Mariners to take the advantage though on 35 minutes, when Gavin Forbes delivered a great ball in to Nik Mrdja, who coolly headed past Thomas and inside the far post to give the hosts a deserved lead.

It wouldn-t take long for the visitors to equalize though, a period of heavy dominance was finally rewarded, when Babalj was the recipient of a good ball through, he then beat Adam Ormsby before finishing well past Redmayne.

Babalj made it two to give the AIS the lead just two minutes later, when he latched on to a lovely ball over the top to chip Redmayne with his first touch.

"He (Babalj) had a very strong game, but to be beaten by a straight ball through the middle at any stage, you can put it down to not enough pressure on the ball, or the two centre backs not covering, the ‘keeper maybe could have come off his line, so I-ll need to see that one on DVD, but a straight ball from back to front that beats everybody, is just not acceptable," said Walmsley.

For the Mariners, skipper Panni Nikas had so far scored n every match this campaign, and the Mariners- skipper delivered again, this time with a powerful, low 20 yard drive to leave Thomas with no chance, and send the Central Coast into the sheds on even terms.

The AIS saw an effort cannon off the crossbar in a mad goalmouth scramble shortly after the restart, but as the rain set in, chances became few and far between, on the fast synthetic surface.

Terry Antonis and Kamal Ibrahim both tested Andrew Redmayne, but the Mariners custodian proved up to the task, before copping a set of studs to the face as a reward for his heroics on 70 minutes.

The Mariners too had chances of their own, Mitchell Mallia-s seemingly goalbound volley was deflected wide for a corner before having a shot blocked soon after, while Brady Smith sent an effort over the bar.

Nikas took the ball into the area as the Mariners looked to snatch a winner, but two players became tangled as they both looked to finish from close range, and almost immediately after, the AIS took the ball on the counter, only for Brendan Hamill to fire over.

Nikas and Mallia both put efforts wide as the clock wound down, with both sides ultimately unable to break the deadlock and find a winner.

"We played very well on the surface last week so I don-t really think we can use that as an excuse. Generally, we had too many players not at their maximum output today, so that contributed to the ball not moving as fluently as it normally would. Having said that, and with so many players out of touch, it was a decent result.

"It-s a good yardstick for the younger players like Mitchell Mallia, Brendan Griffin and Nick Fitzgerald, they-re in the same sort of ball-park (age group). The way they moved the ball around and the way they took up early positions in a high tempo, tactical game, lessons can be learned.

Adam Ormsby is an injury concern for the Central Coast youngsters, after coming off second best in giving away a second half foul.

"It was a reckless tackle and he came off second best. It-s a fairly bad cork to the thigh, and we have plenty of players in the wings should we need to make changes.

The Mariners- next match of the National Youth League campaign is against Brisbane Roar at Ballymore Oval next Sunday, 18 October. Kick-off is at 3:15pm.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 3. Matthew LEWIS, 5. Luka DUKIC, 6. Manny GIANNAROS, 9. Gavin FORBES (8. Nick FITZGERALD 61-), 10. Panni NIKAS (c), 11. Mitchell MALLIA, 12. Nik MRDJA (OA) (7. Brendan GRIFFIN 61-), 14. Brady SMITH, 15. Adam ORMSBY (9. Gavin FORBES 85-), 17. Shane HUKE (OA) (2. Nathan SHERLOCK 45-).

Unused Subs 20. Nik MATIC (gk).

Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals Mrdja 35-, Nikas 44-

Australian Institute of Sport 1. Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 2. Trent SAINSBURY, 7. Terry ANTONIS (22. Jake BARKER-DAISH 62-), 8. Eli BABALJ, 9. Stephen DOMENICI (19. Curtis GOOD 62-), 10. Nikola STANOJEVIC (c), 11. Chris BUSH, 12. Jared LUM, 13. Kamal IBRAHIM (6. Patrick DIXON 62-), 15. Brendan HAMILL, 21. Mustafa AMINI.

Unused Subs 20. Aaron LENNOX (gk).

Yellow Cards None Red Cards None Goals Babalj 40-, 42-

Referee Gerard PARSONS