This weekend’s high stakes PS4 NPL 2 final round clash for the Central Coast Mariners Academy has been relocated to Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park and the equation is simple. A win will confirm our place in the finals series.
Although the Mariners were scheduled to play at home, due to the unavailability of Pluim Park the Yellow & Navy have been forced to play in Sydney.
A stunning four-goal-haul from Brenton Fox, and solo strikes from Duncan Stewart and Shelford Dais saw the Central Coast Mariners Academy secure a 6-2 win over Bankstown City Lions on the weekend, putting them in good strides for the round 26 clash against Spirit FC.
This Sunday, the Yellow & Navy face Spirit FC in the competition’s final round of 2017 with first-grade kick off set for 3pm.
It’s a winner takes all affair with the inform Spirit also looking to surge into finals contention and are unbeaten in their last four, including a 4-2 win over the second placed St. George last weekend.
For our boys who sit on 37 points, a win is crucial. The Mariners Academy currently share 5th spot on the ladder with Mounties Wanderers, North Shore Mariners and Northern Tigers. Our superior goal difference sees us occupy fifth but a draw or less could mean the end of our season.
Spirit are currently two points behind in ninth place and also need a win to keep their season alive.
This week we caught up goal scoring hero Brenton Fox who was Fox has been happy with his side’s performance but knows there still improvement in the tank.
“I feel like we have been playing some really good football, but we are still struggling to put together a 90-minute performance which has been our achilles heel this season,” Fox said. It happened again on the weekend when we leaked two late goals, it’s frustrating.
“It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet but obviously, I can’t do it without the help of the team. I think I’ve been quite lucky this year and had some luck which always helps you bag a few goals.
“In the last few weeks we have been leaking soft goals which has made it hard to grind out wins. We like to play football and if we can do that we know we are better than any team in the competition.
“Duncan and I have had some friendly competition for the club’s golden boot which is good because we are pushing each other. At the end of the day we both have a common goal and that is to win the league with these boys.
“It is frustrating that we can’t play at Pluim this weekend because we all love playing there, but Sydney United Sports Centre is synthetic and it’s bigger so it will work in our favour because it will let us play slick and quick football.
“It is important we get the three points and head into the finals series on a high,” Fox said.
This season has been a rollercoaster of emotions for Ben Cahn’s men, who after 10 rounds sat in 12th position with only three wins.
Rounds 11 through to 17 saw an unbeaten streak take them into 4th position on the ladder, with strikers Duncan Stewart (5 goals) and Brenton Fox (10 goals) stamping authority on the competition, scoring 15 goals between them, including another four-goal-haul to Brenton Fox.
Rounds 18 to 25 saw another mixed bag of results for the youngsters, which included four defeats, a dagger blow of sorts to cementing a place inside the top six with weeks to spare.
Attackers Duncan Stewart, Brenton Fox and Lachlan Wales have all been influential in the academy’s front third, scoring an astonishing 45 goals between them. Fox (19), Stewart (18) and Wales (8) have played a part in more than half of the team’s goals, while Brenton Fox and Duncan Stewart have had some friendly competition with each other for the Mariners Academy golden boot.
The departure of captain Steve Whyte to Seattle Sounders II and the resumption of the Hyundai A-League squad’s training has caused some disruption in recent weeks but also provided ample opportunities for the young rising academy players in Okon’s first team this pre-season.
Our u20’s squad have cemented 3rd place whilst our 18’s will get next weekend off, claiming the minor premiership with ease.
First grade: 3pm
Opponent: Spirit FC
Their ladder position: 9th (35 points)
Our ladder position: 5th (37 points)
Date: Sunday August 27
Venue: Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park