Young Mariners Anticipating A Pre-Christmas Special

Saturday’s slender victory over the Brisbane Roar has given the Mariners’ National Youth League side a two-point buffer at the top of the ladder, a margin they’re keen to extend when they face Sydney FC tomorrow.

Saturday-s slender victory over the Brisbane Roar has given the Mariners- National Youth League side a two-point buffer at the top of the ladder, a margin they-re keen to extend when they face Sydney FC tomorrow.

Despite their lofty position on the table the Young Mariners are acutely aware that they need to continue to improve if they are to be contenders at the business end of the season. Such is the closeness of the competition, and with some teams having a game in hand any one of the top six sides could be sitting in the top four at the conclusion of the round.

The Mariners have achieved maximum points from their last two home matches and a key part of that success on the score sheet is Wyoming junior Brady Smith who has netted two goals in his last two starts.

"I-m happy with my own form at the moment, two goals in two games I-ve got to be happy with that. It was a long time coming for that first one but now I-ve got that one I-m hoping to get a few more," Smith said.

Smith believes that the pass that led to his goal against Brisbane was accidental but no one can deny the class of his finish that gave the Young Mariners an important two-goal lead at halftime.

"I don-t think the ball was intended to be delivered to me but I-ll take it. My touch wasn-t too bad and it sat up very nicely for a good volley in the end."

Smith like the rest of his teammates is loving life at the pointy end of the table, but concedes the squad has some defensive issues that they still need to overcome if they are to continue with their recent form.

"Its brilliant sitting on top of the table, I couldn-t be happier with how we-re going. We are training hard and playing well and I think there-s still a lot improvement left in us.

"It-s good that we-re scoring a lot of goals but we definitely need to tighten up. Most of the goals that we have conceded have been silly ones. The good thing is that can be easily fixed," Smith said.

Standing in the way of the Mariners and an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory is Sydney FC, the inaugural champions of the National Youth League.

Sydney FC are one of the competition heavyweights and in the short history between the two sides, the Mariners have recorded just the lone victory.

Sydney FC are coming off a narrow 1-nil victory against Melbourne and are desperate for a win to stay in touch with fourth placed Gold Coast.

"It should be a tough, physical game against Sydney. They-re sure to drop a few first graders down to their youth side. It should be a very competitive game. Sydney are one of the strongest sides in this competition," Smith said.

Fans of the Young Mariners are well aware that their team can play attacking football and that the combinations between players are improving every week.

"Our combinations are coming along nicely. We-ve played a whole round now so I think everyone is comfortable playing with each other."

Smith is more aware than most of the importance of developing combinations, he is playing with a new strike partner almost every week. It doesn-t bother the young marksman who is challenging himself to learn off the experienced players beside him.

"It-s good getting to play with Dylan and Nik (Mrdja) I get to see firsthand how a first grader plays and hopefully I can improve to that level."

Despite the short turnaround, Wednesday-s match is shaping to be a Christmas cracker.

Wednesday-s clash will be the 5th competitive meeting between the Young Mariners and their southern F3 rivals, and the second of this campaign.

Previous Meetings Sat 1 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1 Sydney FC 2, Sydney Football Stadium Sat 13 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1 Sydney FC 3, Bluetongue Stadium Sat 14 Feb 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 0 Sydney FC 1, Pluim Park, Lisarow Sat 3 Oct 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 3 Sydney FC 1, Seymour Shaw Park, Sydney

Central Coast MarinersNik MATIC (GK), Matthew RYAN (GK), Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), Panny NIKAS (C), David GULLO, Nick FITZGERALD, Gavin FORBES, Brady SMITH, Nathan SHERLOCK, Adam ORMSBY, Manny GIANNAROS, Brendan GRIFFIN, Matthew LIDDALL, Graz TRIMBOLI, Mitchell MALLIA, Luka DUKIC, Jerry KALOURIS. *two to be omitted*

Unavailable Nil

Sydney FC Matthew JURMAN, Antony GOLEC, Joel CHIANESE, Ray MILLER, Mitchell SPEER, Sam MUNRO, Nenad VEKIC (gk), Luke AUSTIN, Sam GALLAGHER, Joseph GIBBS, Mark PULLMAN (gk), Tim MCGOWAN, Iain RAMSAY, Dimitri PETRATOS, Steve TIBBETS

Unavailable Kerem BULUT, Hussein AKIL, Zach CAINCROSS, Kofi DANNING

Referee Brett HOOKHAM

The Mariners- next home match of the National Youth League 2009/10 season will be against Perth Glory on Sunday, 3 January at Pluim Park, Lisarow. Kick-off is at 10:00am. Entry is Free.

Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by Clicking Here or by phoning 1300 767 442.