Young Mariners Are Homeward Bound

Saturday’s scoreless draw against the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra was the last of a marathon six straight games on the road for the Mariners National Youth League side.

Saturday-s scoreless draw against the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra was the last of a marathon six straight games on the road for the Mariners National Youth League side.

Since their last home game on Saturday, 10 October the Young Mariners have faced trips to Canberra and Brisbane twice apiece as well as Melbourne and Newcastle. Fortunately for Tony Walmsley-s charges the travel hasn-t blunted the form of his side.

Indeed, the Young Mariners have thrived on the pressures of the away trips and have quickly learned what the life of a professional footballer is all about.

For the record the Young Mariners have chalked up four wins, a draw and a loss from their month and a half on the road.

These are strong statistics that have a gone a long way to helping the side to their current lofty status on the league table. They currently sit in equal first position but are second to Melbourne on goal difference.

Mariners captain Panny Nikas was brutally honest when asked to reflect upon the match against the AIS.

"We came out with a draw but I think now reflecting back on the match we were the more dominant side and had more clear-cut chances then they did.

"I include myself in this as I had two chances I really should-ve finished off. We-re happy with the clean sheet but not with the draw as it was a match where we should have got the three points," Nikas said.

The highlight of the Young Mariners campaign thus far has been their ability to score goals. With no goals coming from their attack in the match against the AIS it was the efforts of the side in defence that pleased Nikas.

"The defence was very strong on the weekend across the park. We shaped up well and the distribution was good. We stuck to our game plan and it was pleasing to get our second clean sheet of the year.

"It was good to see something we focused on at training pay off in a game. From now on we have to concentrate on scoring goals at the other end of the park, whilst still keeping a clean sheet. We need to consolidate our defence," Nikas said.

With the season nearing the halfway mark Nikas is pleased with how the side is travelling but is determined to keep doing the hard work to ensure that the team continues to develop.

"I think we-re in a comfortable position on the table at the moment. As long as we keep working hard to what we want to achieve and be consistent in our performances I think we can be right up there in the mix challenging for the championship at seasons end," Nikas said.

Determined to stop the Young Mariners in consolidating their position on the ladder are their next opponents Perth Glory, themselves coming off a 3-2 victory against Sydney FC.

Saturday-s clash will be the first time that the Mariners have met the side from the West Australian frontier this campaign.

"They-re coming off a good win against Sydney FC so we know they-re going to be full of confidence. We need to be aware and just react to the game. Only a few guys in our squad have played them before. It will be good to play them at Pluim Park because we won-t have to travel as far for the game.

"We will concentrate on the tactics that the coaching staff develop for us and hopefully deliver what we practice at training during the week," Nikas said.

The team are eagerly awaiting the chance to return to the familiar pastures of their home ground.

"The travelling for this week won-t be too bad it-s especially nice for the Central Coast based boys it-s just round the corner for them," said Nikas.

"We-ve got a few games coming up at Bluetongue Stadium as well so we-re looking to being strong at home. Our away form has been pretty good. So if we can bring our form away to our home matches it will help us go a long way to being competitive in this competition."

Saturday-s clash will be the 4th competitive time the Mariners face their opponents from their historic inaugural NYL match. It will be the first time the two have come face to face this season.

Previous Meetings

Fri 26 Sept 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 0 Perth Glory 1, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Sat 29 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 2 Perth Glory 1, Members Equity Stadium, Perth Sat 3 Jan 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2 Perth Glory 2, Frank Millington Field, Buff Point

Central Coast Mariners squad: Matthew RYAN (GK), Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), Shane HUKE (OA), David D'APUZZO, Matthew LEWIS, Panny NIKAS (C), Nathan SHERLOCK, Brady SMITH, Gavin FORBES, Nick FITZGERALD, Jerry KALOURIS, Adam ORMSBY, Luka DUKIC, Mitchell MALLIA, Brendan GRIFFIN, Manny GIANNAROS, David GULLO? *one to be omitted*??

Unavailable: Matthew LIDDALL (back - 1 week)

Perth Glory Squad: Ludovic BOI, Million BUTSHIIRE, Eugene DADI (OA), Cameron EDWARDS, Dean EVANS, Howard FONDYKE, Andrija JUKIC (OA), Mario MARCINKO, Sam MITCHINSON, Alex PEARSON (gk), Ryan PEARSON, Joshua RISDON, Adam TAGGART, Glen TRIFIRO, Aleks VRTESKI (gk) (OA)

Unavailable: Hayden DOYLE (knee - indefinite), Steve HESKETH (hamstring - 2 weeks), David PRICE (knee - 1 week), Reece VITTIGLIA (broken arm - 3 weeks)

Referee: Brett Hookham

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 on sale by clicking here