Stalemate enough to send young Mariners top

The Central Coast Mariners have done enough to move clear at the top of the National Youth League ladder, in a scoreless draw with the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

The Central Coast Mariners have done enough to move clear at the top of the National Youth League ladder, in a scoreless draw with the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

The Mariners knew a point would be enough to go top on their own after Gold Coast slipped up against Adelaide United last night, and despite coming home with a wet sail, the yellow and navy were unable to find a decisive goal.

"They had a lot of possession around the edge of our 18 yard box, particularly in the first half, but our defensive line did well to hold them out, which was particularly pleasing given we had worked hard on our defence during the week, so it was great to keep a clean sheet," said Mariners NYL assistant coach Damien Brown.

"I thought we might have pinched a win at the end, but their ‘keeper made some great saves, and was probably man-of-the-match in the end."

With the Mariners- senior side on Hyundai A-League duty in Townsville, the NYL side featured just one over-aged payer in Shane Huke, who is continuing his recovery from serious injury, a stark contrast to the side which beat Brisbane 3-1 last week, which featured a heavy A-League influence.

Chasing their first win of the campaign, the AIS took the game to the Central Coast in the opening 20 minutes, Nikodin Matic forced into a fine save after the hosts looked to head home an early corner.

Mariners skipper Panny Nikas was again impressive, nearly setting up the visitors opening goal, as he found space on the left and made a strong run into the box and to the byline, his dangerous ball back into the mixer cleared for a corner.

The Mariners best chances of the opening half came on the counter attack, as the AIS continued to dominate in midfield, moving the ball around impressively, while their wide players gave the Mariners defence plenty of work.

The second half proved more encouraging for the young Mariners, Matthew Lewis moving from left back to the left side of midfield, and the 19-year-old very nearly gave his side the lead midway through the half, when he latched on to a good ball through from Manny Giannaros, only to send his left footed effort narrowly over the bar.

Soon after, with the visitors feverishly chasing a winner, Nikas latched on to a ball floated into the area, and with defenders hanging off, controlled and launched a fierce shot to the ‘keeper-s left, only to be denied by a diving save.

The AIS custodian was called into action again on 92 minutes, when Nikas aimed to snatch it at the death, by nutmegging a local defender before sending a stinging effort again to the left of the ‘keeper, only to again watch his left hand deny the Central Coast the three points.

"They had the better of the first 20 minutes, but we were much better after half time and took control, we did to them what they did to us early on.

"They are a good team, they are well drilled, and caused us plenty of problems, but we probably should have pinched it," said Brown.

The Mariners- next home match of the National Youth League 2009/10 season will be against Perth Glory at Pluim Park, Lisarow on Saturday, 28 November. Kick-off is at 10:00am. Entry is free.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online at www.ccmariners.com.au or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Match Details

AIS: 1. Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 2. Trent SAINSBURY (17. Kevin DAVISON 45-), 10. Nikola STANOJEVIC (c), 11. Christopher BUSH, 13. Kamal IBRAHIM, 15. Brendan HAMILL,16. John MARTINOSKI (6. Patrick DIXON 60-), 18. Ersin KAYA (9. Stephen DOMENICI 59-), 21.Mustafa AMINI, 22. Jake BARKER-DAISH, 26. Aaron PETERSON,

Substitutes not used: 20. Aaron LENNOX (GK)

Yellow cards: John MARTINOSKI 15- Red cards: Nil Goals: Nil

Central Coast Mariners : 1. Nic MATIC (gk), 2. Nathan SHERLOCK, 3. David D'APUZZO, 6. Manny GIANNAROS, 8. Nick FITZGERALD, 10. Panny NIKAS (c), 11. Mitchell MALLIA (5. Luka DUKIC, 60-), 12. Shane HUKE (OA), 14. Brady SMITH (9. Gavin FORBES, 59-), 15. Adam ORMSBY (7. Brendan GRIFFIN, 55-), 18. Matthew LEWIS.

Substitutes not used: 20. Mathew RYAN (GK)

Yellow cards: Adam ORMSBY 25- Red cards: Nil Goals: Nil