Young Mariners Await Clash With Victory

Sunday’s emphatic win over Coastal rivals Gold Coast United has catapulted the Mariners National Youth League side into top spot on a tightly congested ladder at the half-way point of their campaign.

Sunday-s emphatic win over Coastal rivals Gold Coast United has catapulted the Mariners National Youth League side into top spot on a tightly congested ladder at the half-way point of their campaign.

What was pleasing for the Young Mariners in their match against the Gold Coast was that contributions came from across the park. There were five different names on the score sheet: Hyundai A-League squad members Dylan Macallister and Shane Huke as well as skipper Panny Nikas, Matthew Lewis and Adam Ormsby.

Defender Manny Giannaros said the team was extremely happy with the result.

"It was a convincing result against the Gold Coast. I thought the boys did really well particularly in the first half when we were up 2-nil at the break.

"We pretty much ran over the top of them. We played well in the second half but again we conceded some scrappy goals. We shut off at the back which was probably a lapse in concentration and that-s what we will have to go and work on at training this week rectify the situation and take it into next weeks game," Giannaros said.

With the National Youth League designed to help young players prepare for potential Hyundai A-League careers it is unsurprising that the ladder, like that of their senior counterparts is incredibly tight. Indeed the Young Mariners were sitting fifth on the table going into the clash with the Gold Coast but a combination of other results and a resounding victory have seen them move into the much coveted top spot.

"I was unaware that we-ve now moved into top spot. Before the game (Head Coach) Tony (Walmsley) and Browny (Assistant Damien Brown) said we were in 5th spot. It was a bit sudden afterwards when we won they said congratulations we-re now on top. It was a bit of a shock I went home and checked it up by looking up the table," Giannaros said.

"It was a great result to get us into first place. It-s such a tight competition with all teams separated by only a few points. The challenge is to keep those results coming because we have all those teams snapping at our heels now," said Giannaros.

The Mariners have now scored 28 goals this campaign but it is the number 17 in the ‘against- column on the table that drives the side to continually improve.

"We-re very happy that the goals are coming from all over the park but we-ve planned our team and our success around our defence. We want to defend well all over the field. Although the goals are coming in there is a lot of room for improvement in the defensive side of our game.

"We have conceded a few sloppy goals there were the two last week, one against Perth and four against Melbourne in ten minutes. That is something we really need to rectify. We know we can score goals and if we can hold teams out, well that goes a long way to winning the game," Giannaros said.

The team who knows a thing or two about putting goals past the Young Mariners are Saturday-s opponents the Melbourne Victory. The last time these two sides met the team from south of the Murray netted three goals in scoring blitz of ten minutes.

"I-m expecting Melbourne to be very confident against us after getting the result last time we played them. They got on a good roll against us and really got on top of us. In saying that we actually played pretty well that game it was after the drinks break when we fell apart.

"That period really cost us and we can-t afford to let it happen. Melbourne gained a lot from that period and at 4-1 it was impossible to get back into the game because time beat us. We could make excuses and say it was hot but the other team had to deal with the exact same circumstances.

"It was a lapse of concentration after that break and we speak about it every week. The fact remains we have to play in these conditions and will have those breaks so we can-t keep losing concentration after those breaks," Giannaros said.

The Young Mariners will be back on friendly territory when they take on their southern rivals and will be playing on the more familiar grass surface as opposed to the artificial turf of the Veneto Club sportsground.

After so long on the road Giannaros is looking forward to playing with home support.

"It feels good to be at home again and playing in front of our own supporters. We did play at Pluim Park against Perth a few weeks ago but it will be nice to play at Bluetongue again. It-s good to play at a good stadium with a good pitch and our supporters right behind us. It-s a real positive to play out there, can-t complain at all," Giannaros said.

The Young Mariners are also looking forward to a late afternoon kick-off, something they haven-t experienced since their 6-0 demolition of the Newcastle Jets six weeks ago.

"It-s a lot better time to kick-off on Saturday. I think it-s predicted to be pretty hot again come game time but we-re accustomed to that now. We-ve been training in it and I think all the boys are used to it now.

"Besides now it-s summer it-s going to keep on getting hotter. We know how to deal with it just let the ball do the work and go from there," Giannaros said.

Sunday-s clash with Melbourne Victory will be the 5th competitive clash between the two clubs and the second of this campaign.

Previous Meetings

Sat 11 Oct 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 2 Melbourne Victory 1, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Sat 22 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1 Melbourne Victory1, Bob Jane Stadium, Melbourne Sat 17 Jan 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2 Melbourne Victory 1, Epping Soccer Stadium, Melbourne Sun 8 Nov 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 1 Melbourne Victory 4, Veneto Club, Melbourne

Central Coast Mariners squad: Matthew RYAN (GK), Nik MATIC (GK), Shane HUKE (OA), Matthew LEWIS, David GULLO, Nick FITZGERALD, Gavin FORBES, Panny NIKAS (C), Brady SMITH, Nathan SHERLOCK, Adam ORMSBY, Manny GIANNAROS, Brendan GRIFFIN, Matthew LIDDALL, Graz TRIMBOLI, Mitchell MALLIA, Luka DUKIC, Jerry KALOURIS.?? *three to be omitted*

Unavailable: Nil

Melbourne Victory squad: Aziz BEHICH (c), Matthew DEMO, Diogo FERREIRA, Petar FRANJIC, Stephen HATZIKOSTAS, Antonio LA VERDE, Sebastian MATTEI (gk), Bradley NORTON, Luke PILKINGTON, Stefaan SARDELIC (gk), Craig SWEENEY, Kliment TASESKI, Simon TOLLI, Tedros YABIO *one to be included*

Unavailable: Nil

Referee: Kurt Ams

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team takes on Melbourne Victory this Saturday, 12 December at Bluetongue Stadium. Kick-off is at 4:15pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs are available online by clicking here