Mariners Youth creep further clear

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side has been forced to settle for a point, after playing out an entertaining scoreless draw with Adelaide United in stifling conditions at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side has been forced to settle for a point, after playing out an entertaining scoreless draw with Adelaide United in stifling conditions at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The point means Tony Walmsley-s side are now two points clear of Perth at the top, but Walmsley admits it would have been nice to claim all three today.

"It was a frustrating day. We dominated for long periods but to be fair to them the last ten minutes could have gone either way because it was end to end with everyone trying to snatch a winner.

"Overall, performance wise, we traveled to Adelaide this morning, and put in a really good performance," said Walmsley.

Aiming to kick four clear at the top, the Mariners- youth started brightly enough, with Matthew Lewis shooting just wide from the edge of the area on six minutes, while Dane Milovanovic was forced to clear for a corner after a dangerous ball in from Dylan Macallister.

Mark Birighitti had to be at his best to keep his side on level terms on 12 minutes, the Adelaide shot stopper doing brilliantly to deny Gavin Forbes after getting on the end of a Panni Nikas cross with a bullet header at point blank range.

Birighitti was well beaten four minutes later but had the crossbar to thank, after Nikas sent a 30 yard thunderbolt crashing into it, while at the other end, Nathan Sherlock was proving solid in defence, as he snuffed out a good Adelaide attacking movement featuring Evan Kostopoulos and Liam Wooding.

Sherlock was involved again soon after but for the wrong reasons, giving away what looked to be a soft penalty, Regis Queffelec ruling the Mariners central defender had held Kostopoulos, although contact appeared to be minimal.

Matthew Ryan would ensure the stalemate remained though, doing brilliantly to save Matthew Mullen-s spot kick by diving low to his left.

"We didn-t think it was a penalty in a million years, but he had a good all round game and the penalty (save) just capped it off, he-s an excellent young ‘keeper and he proved his worth," said Walmsley.

Brady Smith went on a lovely run on 28 minutes, leaving three Adelaide defenders in his wake before finding Nikas, who laid the ball off for Macallister to turn and shoot at Birighitti.

Lewis latched on to a through ball as the visitors continued to press, and sent his shot across the face of goal, but Forbes couldn-t quite stretch out to meet it at the back post.

There would be yet more controversy in front of Ryan-s goal, when the assistant referee ruled the young Mariners custodian had handled outside the area after he raced out to collect a long ball. He received a booking, but was adamant he picked the ball up inside the box.

Milovanovic put the resultant free kick into the wall and Mullen fired the rebound over, while Forbes headed wide after Macallister flicked on a long Shane Huke throw in, ensuring honours would remain even at the break.

Nikas stepped up for a free kick on the edge of the box soon after the resumption but watched it shave the top corner of the woodwork, while a Milovanovic header took a similar path at the other end.

Mitchell Mallia was one of three changes made by Tony Walmsley around the hour mark, introduced for Welsh youth international Jonathan Brown who put in a solid 60 minutes on debut, and Mallia came close after making an incisive run into the area and powering a shot at Birighitti, which the Reds custodian caught at the second attempt.

Ryan made a good save at the near post but Francesco Monterosso strayed into an offside position before unleashing, while Mallia sent an effort from the left channel flashing across the face of goal for the Mariners.

Adelaide looked the more likely to nick the points as the clock wound down, Nathan Sherlock-s sliding tackle sent the ball narrowly past the far post - Milovanovic put a free header over the bar from the resultant corner.

A miscued clearance by Ryan allowed Kingsley Francis to play Kostopoulos in, but Ryan redeemed himself with a good save at the near post.

In a frenetic final few minutes, Kostopoulos sent a spectacular overhead volley over the bar and Shane Huke made a vital last-man challenge as Allwright honed in on goal, but in the end, neither side was able to break down the opposing defence, and the Mariners would have to settle for a point.

"Matt Lewis probably had the best chance, his second chance where he was bearing down on goal and dragged it across the face of goal. We were happy we were getting into those positions, but on another day we might have put one or two away," said Walmsley.

"Gold Coast and Perth the next two games are probably the biggest two games of the rest of the season now. If we get through tose games with a result, either a win or a draw we-d be definitely still in the finals and looking to push on to the championship," Walmsley said.

The Mariners- next home match of the National Youth League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United on Friday, 22 January. Kick-off is at 5:15pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1. Matthew RYAN (GK), 2. Nathan SHERLOCK, 3. Jerry KALOURIS, 6. Manny GIANNAROS, 7. Matthew LEWIS (15. Adam ORMSBY 61-), 9. Gavin FORBES (18. Bernie IBINI-ISEI 60-), 10. Panny NIKAS (C), 12. Shane HUKE, 14. Brady SMITH, 17. Jonathan BROWN (11. Mitchell MALLIA 60-), 19. Dylan MACALLISTER.

Unused Subs 20. Nik MATIC (GK).

Yellow Cards Ryan 41-, Ibini-Isei 86- Red Cards None Goals None

Adelaide United 40. Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 4. Dane MILOVANOVIC, 5. Robert CORNTHWAITE, 6. Alex SUNASKY, 8. Matthew MULLEN (C) (16. Kingsley FRANCIS 58-), 9. Evan KOSTOPOULOS, 10. Liam WOODING (19. Joseph WRIGHT 62-), 11. Scott JAMIESON, 12. Brett RAYNER (8. Matthew MULLEN 87-), 15. Francesco MONTEROSSO, 17. Paul REID (7. Joel ALLWRIGHT 46-).

Unused Subs 30. Codey LARKIN (GK).

Yellow Cards Cornthwaite 56- Red Cards None Goals None

Referee Regis QUEFFELEC