A Central Coast Mariners outfit blending experienced senior professionals, eager up and coming talents, and ambitious trialists earned a 0-0 draw with Newcastle Jets in a Hyundai A-League pre-season trial in Mudgee on Saturday.
Having defeated Brisbane’s Olympic FC 3-1 in the Westfield FFA Cup on Tuesday, Central Coast Mariners boss Phil Moss opted to leave all bar goalkeeper Liam Reddy from his mid-week starting eleven at home for the trip to western New South Wales, in favour of giving vital match minutes to a range of squad members who required intense game play leading in to the start of the season proper.
Steered around the park by senior professionals Liam Reddy, Nick Montgomery and Glen Trifiro, the mainly young Mariners proved to be highly capable and competitive against Phil Stubbins’ side, and indeed dominated the first 45 minutes of the match at Glen Willow Regional Sporting Stadium.
Trialist Travis Major led the line well, and it was the Blacktown City Demons man that tested Newcastle custodian Mark Birighitti twice early in the first half.
Moreover, the tireless Montgomery forced Birighitti into action from long range as the Mariners looked the more likely team to break the deadlock.
Newcastle made some personnel changes after the interval which did result in somewhat of a shift in attacking momentum, and their best opportunity of the game came through Argentine attacker Jeronimo Neumann. Neumann pushed his header from David Carney’s precise cross wide of Reddy’s left post.
Montgomery had a late chance to win the game for the yellow and navy when he won the ball in the box and beat a couple of Jets defenders. However, the former Sheffield United man slipped slightly at the wrong moment, and ultimately pushed his curling shot just wide of the target.
Central Coast Mariners boss Phil Moss was delighted with the performances of his charges against an experienced Jets outfit, and after the game said that the fixture provided numerous benefits for his team.
“Today was a great opportunity on several counts,” Moss explained. “It was a great opportunity for some match minutes for some senior players – Richi Vernes and Malick Mane got some valuable minutes.”
“Nick Montgomery and Liam Reddy obviously played out the 90, and some of the younger boys that are pushing to play first team football this year really impressed.
“The likes of Hayden Morton, Tom Slater, Liam Rose – who was outstanding in the middle of the park –, Michael Neill again, and a few of our youth team boys got a chance today.
“For the team that I put out there today to match it and I think dominate the first 45 against what I thought was close to a full strength Jets team was outstanding.
“Overall, I was delighted with the exercise,” he said.
Moss stressed that while the Mariners’ line-up against Newcastle in Mudgee may be viewed by many as experimental, the performances of his players at Glen Willow means that true competition is beginning to emerge within the squad for places in the match day side for Hyundai A-League round 1 against Newcastle Jets at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday 11 October.
“Let’s use Mickey Neill as an example,” Moss said. “Mickey is a fantastic footballer and a fantastic kid, and now he’s put together two very good appearances against Brisbane Roar and Newcastle.”
“Today he was up against a very experienced player in Jeronimo Neumann, and up against Brisbane he came up against some very experienced players as well.
“So he’s one of a number of players who has now equipped himself very well, and he like others he is showing that he’s ready to play first team football.
“That’s great for me because it gives me options and keeps players fighting for their spot and working hard.”
Central Coast Mariners together with Newcastle Jets will hold a coaching clinic and signing session at Glen Willow Regional Sporting Stadium on Sunday morning.
The yellow and navy will play the Young Socceroos behind-closed-doors this week as they continue to prepare for Hyundai A-League season ten.
Central Coast Mariners 0
Newcastle Jets 0
Glen Willow Regional Sporting Stadium, Mudgee
Referee: Steve Lucas
Central Coast Mariners FC: 4. Richard Vernes (14. Malick Mane 56’), 8. Nick Montgomery, 11. Jacob Poscoliero, 12. Liam Reddy (Gk), 13. Hayden Morton, 16. Liam Rose (6. Jake McGing 66’), 18. Michael Neill, 19. Zac Cairncross, 22. Tom Slater (15. Sam Perre 80’), 25. Travis Major, 28. Glen Trifiro (20. Anthony Kalik 66’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Beyhan Irmako (Gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Newcastle Jets FC: 2. Scott Neville, 3. Taylor Regan, 5. Sam Gallaway, 6. Sam Gallagher, 7. Jeronimo Neumann, 9. Joel Griffiths (10. Marcos Flores 46’), 12. Allan Welsh, 13. Edson Montano (17. James Virgili 46’), 15. David Carney, 16. Jacob Pepper, 30. Mark Birighitti (Gk)
Substitutes not used: 4. Kew Jaliens, 8. Johnny Steele, 20. John Solari (Gk)
Yellow cards: Griffiths, Gallaway
Red cards: Nil