Mariners Youth crowned premiers

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side has been rewarded for an outstanding 2009/10 campaign, by being crowned premiers, following a scoreless draw with Sydney FC.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side has been rewarded for an outstanding 2009/10 campaign, by being crowned premiers, following a scoreless draw with Sydney FC.

Needing victory to guarantee the top spot there and then, the young Mariners watched good chances slip away, and were forced to rely on the result of second placed Perth Glory-s clash with Newcastle several hours later.

The Glory were unable to take three points at home to the Jets though, the only result that could have knocked the Yellow and Navy off the top of the perch, and Tony Walmsley-s charges were left to celebrate.

"It-s a great feeling, and I-m delighted for the boys because they-ve put in so much effort over the past few months, but the job isn-t done yet.

"We can enjoy this today but we-ll be back at training this week concentrating on the job at hand, and that-s winning a semi final this week, and ultimately the Grand Final in two weeks time," said Walmsley.

In an entertaining and open match that created plenty of chances, and with a lot at stake for both sides, neither team could ultimately trouble the scorers on a very humid afternoon.

The opening minutes can best be described as tentative as both sides were intent on sounding each other out. It was the home side that settled into their rhythm first with a real scoring chance falling to the feet of Bernie Ibeni-Isei in just the eighth minute of play.

A Brendan Griffin cross was headed down perfectly by Shane Huke. Bernie Ibini-Isei who was following through the play like a potent poacher waiting for an opportunity couldn-t keep his shot down, firing his drive into the crossbar much to his obvious frustration.

Sydney stung by the Mariners first chance didn-t wait long to launch their own reply. An audacious shot from 30 yards by Tim McGowan was an attempt to catch the Mariners defence off guard.

Not content with that effort Iain Ramsay continued the attacking momentum for the visitors, forcing Mathew Ryan into a fine save in the thirteenth minute.

The next scoring chance fell to the Mariners with a floating Griffin free kick causing all sorts of headaches for Sydney custodian Nenad Vekic. Veckic spilt the ball in the motion of catching it and his blushes were spared as the ball took a sharp deflection and headed out of play.

From the resulting counter attack Sydney FC were able to put the ball into the back of the net, unfortunately for Sydney supporters Iain Ramsay was ruled offside.

Panny Nikas pressed forward in search of the elusive goal and a probing run caused plenty of headaches for the Sydney defenders. None more so than Mitchell Speer who put in a strong challenge on the Mariners skipper.

Nikas shrugged off the challenge and continued his run continuing the movement by passing the ball to Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald-s effort sailed harmlessly wide of the near post. For Speer the pain was a bit more problematic as he eventually succumbed to the injury sustained in the tackle on Nikas.

The injury crisis for Sydney deepened minutes later when Hussien Akil pulled up lame in an intense sprint for the ball. The resulting hamstring injury ended Akil-s involvement in the match.

In the minutes before half-time there was plenty of drama when a Sydney attacker claimed he was fouled in the penalty box. Referee Kurt Ams was not having a bar of it and waved play on. Custodian Ryan, sensing on instinct that Sydney were short on numbers having committed too many men forward sent a long ball into the stratosphere.

When gravity had its inevitable effect on the trajectory of the ball sending it downward towards the Pluim Park turf, it fell to the feet of Ibni-Isei. With a subtle touch Ibini-Isei cut inside his marker and was through in a great attacking raid for the Mariners. Unfortunately the talented striker sent his shot harmlessly wide.

Ibini-Isei didn-t have to wait long for a shot at redemption, when the best chance of the half fell to him a minute later. From a corner he was able to shrug off his marker and powerfully head the ball towards goal. It was only a brilliant piece of reflex defending from Sydney captain Sam Munro on the line that denied the Mariners a game-changing goal.

Sydney, desperate to keep alive their season came out firing in the second half. Iain Ramsay had a number of shots throughout the second had as did Joel Chianese. The men in sky blue were intent on taking the game to the Young Mariners and continually pressed forward in search of a game-breaking goal.

With both team-s seasons effectively on the line there was understandably plenty of passion in the second half especially as a result of several strong challenges.

Shane Huke pulled off a number of crucial tackles and his co-conspirators in defence, Jerry Kalouris, Matt Liddall and Adam Ormsby were certainly keen on leaving their mark on the Sydney FC attackers.

At the other end of the field the Young Mariners kept pushing forward in search of an elusive goal.

Panny Nikas had a number of shots throughout the half, his best chance falling in the seventieth minute sailed agonizingly over the crossbar.

Ibini-Isei also had a number of attempts on goal but was unable to find a way of penetrating the Sydney defence.

Mitch Mallia, Scott McGlinley and Mitchell Duke all tried hard to find a way around the Sydney defence but as a result of the stifling heat were unable to be as effective as they would-ve liked.

Brady Smith was his usual enigmatic self until he sent an injury scare through the camp when he fell awkwardly in a challenge and was forced from the field.

The Mariners kept probing but were unable to find a way through a resolute Sydney FC defence.

As the match ticked down to its final minutes the Mariners were forced to weather a platoon of Sydney attacks.

The match petered into a draw, which was a fair result for both teams, and ultimately, enough for the young Mariners to clinch the premiership.

"They-ll be better for that performance. We won-t put in two performances like that in a row and we-ll bounce back from that and be ready for whomever we play.

"At the end of the day we hit the post three times … so if we had a bit more luck we may have nicked a goal as well, so I-m not too disappointed, but the performance could have been a lot better.

"You just never know with young players. They certainly were not mentally sharp, but the other factor was the heat, it was very humid and hot, which effects young players greatly as well so I think that did contribute to the performance being a bit below par.

"We-re on top of the table now … and we still win the premiership. So I think what they-ll learn from that is they-ve played badly but scratched a nil-all draw, and if that was a finals game next week we-re nil-all going into extra time, and we-ve scored many times in extra time before this season, so there are many positives to come out of it," said Walmsley.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 3. Jerry KALOURIS, 4. Matthew LIDDALL, 7.Brendan GRIFFIN (15. Adam ORMSBY 46-) 8. Nick FITZGERALD, (2. Scott McGINLEY 62-) 10. Panny NIKAS (C), 11. Mitchell MALLIA, 12. Shane HUKE, 14. Brady SMITH, (6. Mitchell DUKE 62-) 17. Matthew LEWIS, 18. Bernie IBINI-ISEI.

Unused Subs 20. Nik MATIC (GK)

Yellow Cards Huke 42-, Ormsby 84- Red Cards None Goals None

Sydney FC: 1. Nenad VEKIC (GK), 2. Steve TIBBETS, 4. Joseph GIBBS, (12. Paul MACKEY 59-) 5. Sam GALLAGHER, 6. Mitchell SPEER, (3. David VRANKOVIC 31-), 8. Sam MUNRO (C), 9. Hussein AKIL, (7. Steven ILLIC 37-) 10. Iain RAMSAY, 13. Joel CHIANESE, 14. Tim MCGOWAN, 17. Luke AUSTIN.

Unused Subs 20.Mark PULLMAN (GK)

Yellow Cards Illic 65-, Munro 84- Red Cards None Goals None

Referee Kurt AMS