Mariners Youth On Red-Alert

The combination of a hard-fought 2-nil win over the AIS and a favourable result between Perth Glory and Sydney FC has seen the Young Mariners regain top spot in the National Youth League heading into tomorrow’s Round 20 clash against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The combination of a hard-fought 2-nil win over the AIS and a favourable result between Perth Glory and Sydney FC has seen the Young Mariners regain top spot in the National Youth League heading into tomorrow-s Round 20 clash against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Saturday-s result against the AIS was achieved in sweltering conditions at Bluetongue Stadium. With the mercury nudging 39 degrees it was a fantastic effort from both sides to play out an entertaining and enterprising ninety minutes of football.

Mariners- skipper Panny Nikas was relieved that the side were able to overcome the frustration of a narrow loss the weekend before to get the victory over the boys from the Australian Institute of Sport.

"It was a good result to get the three points and a positive to forget about last week-s loss but there is still a lot of improvement needed as we move into the end of the season.

"It was a bit hot out there but it was the same for both teams. We started off well and dropped off and against a stronger team we would-ve got punished. We played a very organised and compact game and we got the win. Now we just need to keep working hard," Nikas said.

While goals from the boots of Nikas and Gavin Forbes gave the Young Mariners breathing space on the final score sheet, it was the efforts of the team as a whole that allowed the home side to bag the three-points.

"The defence was working very well and everyone stuck to the game plan. It was good to see everyone press forward. (Goalkeeper) Niko (Matic) also kept very well but to have another clean sheet and to score two goals, it-s obviously very pleasing," Nikas said.

The young skipper was happy to get his name on the score sheet from open play, but was more thrilled for Forbes.

"It was good to get a goal from open play again rather from all the penalties. It was great to see Forbesy get another goal. It was a good reward for all his hard work. It was a team performance and we all did well to get the points."

The goal was Forbes second of the campaign and the mercurial marksman was visibly relieved to notch a goal so early in the match to give the home side a lead that they never relinquished.

Mariners coach Tony Walmsley was very relieved to get the three points against the AIS, but was concerned with the amount of pressure the AIS were able to put on his defence in the last quarter of the match. He knows the side can-t afford such mishaps when they take on the might of Adelaide United in the City of Churches.

"Watching from the sidelines we were amazed at the number of corners that the boys didn-t deal well with. We wanted to see how the players adapted to that pressure rather than instruct them to make a change. It-s definitely something we will address in training this week about how we can deal with those situations in the future," Walmsley said.

The Young Mariners are under no illusions about the challenge that awaits them in the South Australian capital. Fresh from their own 2-nil victory over Gold Coast United, the Young Reds are keen to add the scalp of another top-ranked team.

"We will get ourselves ready at training this week. It-s going to be a short turnaround because we play on Friday night and it-s going to be a different proposition. The AIS are very technical and very well organised, Adelaide are equally so. Adelaide have a lot more senior football experience and they-re a lot more physical team and we will need to be at our best physically to be able to cope with them at Hindmarsh," Walmsley said.

In a competition that is mirroring the closeness of their senior counterparts in the Hyundai A-League, just seven points separate the top four sides. Third-placed Gold Coast United have the opportunity to make up ground on the two leading sides in the Central Coast and Perth Glory, while Adelaide are looking for a chance to increase the distance between them and fifth place Sydney. All in all it means the next few rounds are going to be intriguing as the sides jockey into position for a tilt at the title of ‘champions-.

Friday-s clash with Adelaide United will be the 6th competitive clash between the two clubs and the third of this campaign. The last time the two combatants met was on the neutral territory of Canberra.

Previous Meetings

Fri, 3 Oct 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 3, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide Sat, 15 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Adelaide United 6, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Sun, 25 Jan 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 2, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Fri, 11 Sep 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Adelaide United 1, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide Sun, 1 Nov 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Adelaide United 1, McKellar Park, Canberra

Adelaide United Youth squad: Joel ALLWRIGHT, Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), Michael DOYLE, Kingsley FRANCIS, Evan KOSTOPOULOS, Codey LARKIN (gk), Dane MILOVANOVIC, Perry MITRIS, Francesco MONTEROSSO, Matthew MULLEN (c), Brett RAYNER, Alex SUNASKY, Liam WOODING, Joe WRIGHT

Unavailable: Andrew CIARLA (ankle - 1 week), Nathan FARRELL (ankle - season)

Central Coast Mariners squad: Matthew RYAN (GK), Nik MATIC (GK), Shane HUKE (OA), Ahmad ELRICH (OA), Jonathan BROWN (OA), Panny NIKAS (C), Matthew LEWIS, Brady SMITH, Nathan SHERLOCK, Manny GIANNAROS, Jerry KALOURIS, Adam ORMSBY, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Nick FITZGERALD. *one to be added*

Unavailable: Nil

Referee: Regis Queffelec

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team is in action this Friday, 15th January when it travels to Hindmarsh Stadium to take on Adelaide United. Kick-off is at 4:45pm ACST.