CENTRAL Coast Mariners Youth kept their unbeaten start to this season’s National Youth League (NYL) competition alive courtesy of a narrow 2-1 victory over Melbourne Heart Youth on Saturday.
CENTRAL Coast Mariners Youth kept their unbeaten start to this season-s National Youth League (NYL) competition alive courtesy of a narrow 2-1 victory over Melbourne Heart Youth on Saturday.
First half goals from striker Mitchell Duke and attacking midfielder Daniel Bragg trumped Stipo Andrijasevic-s opener for the red and whites at John Cain Memorial Park in Thornbury.
The Mariners were on the back foot early with Andrijasevic netting after only five minutes of play. Some lapse defending by the Central Coast defence allowed the talented striker the opportunity to lob Mariners custodian David Bradasevic. From a tricky angle, Andrijasevic chipped Bradasevic to give the home team the perfect start to the game.
It would take Mariners Youth just ten minutes to restore parity to the contest. Working his way into the box, Duke fired a powerful right foot shot into the back of the net from an acute angle. His assured finish past Heart goalkeeper Alastair Bray underlined why the youngster is so highly regarded.
15 minutes later the Mariners scored their second of the afternoon. Bragg, who followed up his impressive effort in round 1 against Newcastle Jets with another top display on Saturday, made the most of an error in the Heart midfield to brilliantly beat Bray from all of 25 yards.
After the interval Melbourne Heart Youth looked to level proceedings on their home patch. The red and whites won 2-0 over Western Sydney Wanderers in round 1 and began probing the Mariners defence for a reply.
In the 61st minute, Heart substitute Zac Walker fired a cracking first time volley just over the crossbar. Soon after, Mariners striker Patrick Dixon just failed to connect with an inviting ball in from the right following tenacious play by Nikola Stanojevic.
In the 65th minute, Dixon brought the best out of Bray with a fierce shot from just inside the box. And, not long later Stefan Mauk blasted a stern effort direct at Bradasevic.
Mauk-s drive was to prove his last positive involvement in the clash. In the 77th minute, the midfielder was dismissed for his second bookable offence.
With the clock winding down Heart chanced their arm by throwing a number of players forward as they aimed to snatch a point from the match. This left them open at the back and Tommy Cirjak nearly capitalised close to time with a neat effort on goal.
Unfortunately for Cirjak and the travelling Mariners, his shot beat Gray but also flew across the face of goal.
Heart had one final chance to earn a point from the game, however desperate defending from the Mariners backline ensured McLafferty-s men would return to the Central Coast with all three points.
Post match Mariners Youth boss McLafferty expressed his delight as his sides- capacity to hit back following Andrijasevic-s opener.
“We lost an early goal and we adjusted and probably played our best football just after that right up to half-time,” McLafferty said.
“I thought we were by far the better passing team and scored some good goals. Mitchell Duke scored a real good one and then ‘Braggy- (Daniel Bragg) did a one-on-one with the goalkeeper and knocked that one in as well.
“Coming away from home in this league and getting three points is very, very pleasing.”
McLafferty added: “(I-m) happy to get a result down here in Melbourne considering that was a strong team we played against and they got a result last week against the Wanderers.
“We knew they would play direct and hard and also they played some good football, so it was a credit to our boys that we held possession for long periods of time and had a very, very good first half.”
Central Coast Mariners Youth play their next game against Sydney FC next Sunday 4 November at the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence in Tuggerah. Kick-off is 10:30am and admission is FREE.
Melbourne Heart 1 (Andrijasevic 5-) Central Coast Mariners 2 (Duke 15-, Bragg 30-) John Cain Memorial Park, Thornbury
Melbourne Heart: 1. Alastair BRAY (Gk), 2. Jeremy WALKER, 3. Samuel MITCHINSON, 4. Andrew MULLETT (8. Paulo RETRE 59-), 5. William ABBOTT, 6. Joshua GROENEWALD (c), 9. Evangelos BATSIS (15. Zac WALKER 59-), 10. Stefan MAUK, 11. Golgol MEBRAHTU (7. Ersin KAYA 46-), 12. Philip PETRESKI, 14. Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC
Substitutes not used: 16. Christopher MAYNARD (Gk)
Yellow cards: Mauk 13-, 77-
Red cards: Mauk 77-
Central Coast Mariners: 1. David BRADASEVIC (Gk), 2. Nikola STANOJEVIC (c), 3. Michael NEILL (14. Jordan CRIGHTON 54-), 4. Kieren PAULL, 6. Daniel BRAGG (10. Tomislav CIRJAK 60-), 7. Adam JENNER, 8. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 9. Adam KWASNIK, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 13. Brent GRIFFITHS, 19. Mitchell DUKE (12. Patrick DIXON 35-)
Substitutes not used: 20. Luke TURNBULL (Gk)
Yellow cards: Bozanic 33-
Red cards: None
Referee: Wilson Brown