Our way or the Highway: Young Mariners size up Jets

After enduring one of the toughest road trips in domestic sport the Central Coast Mariners return to Bluetongue Stadium this weekend with a five point buffer at the summit of the National Youth League table.

After enduring one of the toughest road trips in domestic sport the Central Coast Mariners return to Bluetongue Stadium this weekend with a five point buffer at the summit of the National Youth League table.

Goals from Hyundai A-League squad members Dylan Macallister, Panny Nikas and a third to new signing Bernie Ibeni-Isei allowed the Young Mariners to come from behind twice against Perth Glory to steal a 3-2 win and claim all three points.

It was a case of sweet revenge for the Young Mariners against the side that has arguably become their biggest adversaries in recent times. The men from the west having twice stolen victory on the Mariners home turf this campaign. Indeed so close have their encounters been that in the short history between the two clubs, neither team has yet won a game by more than a goal.

It was an intriguing match-up between two very evenly matched sides. Perth opened the scoring very early in the match before the Mariners were able to open their account in the 57th minute. Unfortunately the Young Mariners again lost their focus at the most inopportune time and the Glory cancelled out their equaliser to hit the front again sixty seconds later.

Displaying the mental fortitude that has become a signature characteristic this campaign the Young Mariners notched two late goals to break the Glory-s hearts. It was a just reward for a team effort that pleased coach Tony Walmsley.

"It-s a massive result. We-re now five points clear of Adelaide and Perth, and all the big teams have still got each other to play.

"We-re really happy with the performance in both halves. We were down a goal at half time and we thought with the pace and mobility we had in the final third we will hurt them," Walmsley said.

The next challenge awaiting the Young Mariners is the F3 derby against the Newcastle Jets. Historically matches between the NSW rivals tend to be free-flowing open affairs. In the four clashes so far a mammoth 19 goals have been scored at an average of 4.75 goals per game.

The Jets will be travelling to Gosford desperate to avenge the result of their last outing when they were beaten 2-1 by the Australian Institute of Sport. Further back, in the context of the season but in the forefront of their opponents- mind, will be the result the last time the two sides met. On that occasion the Young Mariners thrashed the men from the Hunter 6-0 on their home turf. The Jets will no doubt be keen to erase that result from their minds and a solid performance against the team leading the ladder would be the perfect antidote.

Saturday-s encounter is also the last time the Young Mariners are in action at Bluetongue Stadium in the regular season and are keen to protect their unbeaten record at the venue. The Mariners have been in great attacking form in recent weeks and are relishing the chance to play against their northern rivals.

These matches are historically unpredictable and have a habit of producing moments of breath-taking brilliance. If nothing else, it should be an intriguing game of football.

Saturday-s clash with the Newcastle Jets will be the 5th competitive clash between the two sides and the second of this campaign.

Previous Meetings

Fri, 24 Oct 2008 Central Coast Mariners 0 Newcastle Jets 4, Bluetongue Stadium. Fri, 26 Dec 2008 Central Coast Mariners 4 Newcastle Jets 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium. Fri, 30 Jan 2009 Central Coast Mariners 2 Newcaslte Jets 1, Adamstown Oval. Fri, 23 Oct 2009 Central Coast Mariners 6 Newcastle Jets 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Central Coast Mariners squad: Nik MATIC (GK), Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), Dylan MACALLISTER (OA), Matthew LEWIS, Mitchell MALLIA, Brendan GRIFFIN, Matthew LIDDALL, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Nick FITZGERALD, Jerry KALOURIS, Adam ORMSBY, Luka DUKIC, Gavin FORBES, David GULLO. *one to be added*

UNAVAILABLE: Manny GIANNAROS (groin - two weeks)

Newcastle Jets squad: Will ANGEL, Scott BALDERSON, Damian BROSQUE, James FOGARTY (gk), Jon GRIFFITHS, Fabian IACOVELLI, Adrian KARAKOLEVSKI, Robbie KOLAK (gk), Brodie MOOY, Jason NAIDOVSKI, Mirjan PAVLOVIC, Jesse PINTO, Taylor REGAN (c), Jarrad ROSS, Matt SIM, Umut TOKDOGAN, James VIRGILI *two to be omitted

Unavailable: Mario SIMIC (groin - 1-2 weeks)

Referee: Regis QUEFFELEC

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team is in action this Saturday, 6th February at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford. Kickoff is at 3:10pm AEST.