Young Mariners Beat The Heat

The Central Coast Mariners have returned to the top of the National Youth League table, after an albeit unconvincing 2-nil victory over the Australian Institute of Sport this afternoon.

The Central Coast Mariners have returned to the top of the National Youth League table, after an albeit unconvincing 2-nil victory over the Australian Institute of Sport this afternoon.

First-half goals from Gavin Forbes and Panny Nikas ensured that the Mariners would take home the three points, but coach Tony Walmsley felt that the side could have performed better.

"We-re definitely happy with getting a positive result today, but we felt that it was our worst performance over ninety minutes that we have played this season.

"We-re very disappointed with the performance," Walmsley said.

"We-ve had three tough games against the AIS, it-s good that the boys are back on top of the league but I think if the AIS had a full strength side today we would have been in a lot of trouble.

"It was one of those days that you come away feeling you-ve been fortunate to get the points. We can kick ourselves during the week and get ourselves ready for a good performance against Adelaide."

His captain Panny Nikas was relieved to get a goal and to get the win.

"It was great scoring from open play rather than a penalty but I-m pleased for the boys that we were able to tough it out today and get the win," Nikas said.

Summer had well and truly arrived at Bluetongue Stadium by the time of the mod-afternoon kick-off between the two sides and even the famed palm trees were wilting in the heat.

The Mariners intended to apply the heat early to the side from the Australian Institute of Sport.

Frustrated by a narrow defeat in their last outing against Perth, the Young Mariners were keen to attack early. An early goal to Gavin Forbes was just reward for some enterprising attacking play.

Forbes was the beneficiary of a beautifully timed pass from Nick Fitzgerald that split the AIS defence. The ball found Nikas with the Mariners- skipper demonstrating some subtle control that saw the rebounding ball fall straight to the feet of Forbes. The Blacktown junior made no mistake with the resulting tap-in gifting him his second goal of the campaign in only his fourth start.

The AIS had the opportunity to hit back minutes later but a glancing header from Curtis Good was well saved by the Central Coast custodian Nik Matic.

A free kick in a promising position gave the home side a further opportunity to extend their lead, but the kick from Nikas sailed over the crossbar. It was a moment of frustration for the young skipper but showed the menacing mood that the home side was in.

Matthew Lewis put through a perfectly timed cross from the extreme left of the field that put Gavin Forbes into space. Forbes thought he had done enough to get a second goal but was thwarted by a brave save from the AIS ‘keeper Aaron Lennox.

The Young striker-s confidence was clearly up and he attempted an audacious drive from distance moments later. The AIS custodian wasn-t taking chances and smothered the ball.

His team nearly got the ultimate reward for their ‘keepers foresight a minute later when a perfectly timed cross from the wing just failed to find a fully-stretched Terry Antonis.

The Mariners reply to the AIS attacking raid was as swift as it was spectacular. Matthew Lewis thought he had scored with a header but unfortunately for the Mariners- youngest ever Hyundai A-League representative his header was more of a defensive clearance and fell straight into the arms of Lennox.

The AIS ‘keeper was only able to the get the ball out as far as Nikas at the edge of the penalty area. Nikas with methodical precision and technique drilled his shot with such power and placement that the AIS defence and Lennox had absolutely no chance of stopping the ball from rippling their net.

Forbes, clearly relishing the chance to get game time had a chance to extend the Mariners leaf further three minutes later, but his shot went closer to Brisbane Water than to the AIS goal.

Matthew Crowell thought he had done enough to notch a third goal when he stepped up with a thunderous free-kick in the 37th minute but the shot clattered into the near post and rebounded out of play, much to the former Junior Welsh-s international frustration.

The final scoring chance of the half fell in the dying seconds to Nikas who had a thirty-yard tussle with AIS defender Trent Sainsbury. Nikas thought he was in the clear but the persistence of Sainsbury defused the situation for the team from the nations- capital, and the home side was able to take a two-goal buffer into the break.

Half-time provided respite from the oppressing heat of the stadium and the Young Mariners returned the field of play still in an attacking frame of mind.

Forbes managed to beat the offside trap minutes into the second half but was unable to get a shot away under pressure from the AIS covering defence.

The AIS had their best scoring chance on the hour mark but a brilliant covering tackle by Nathan Sherlock stopped the free-flowing attacking movement in its tracks.

The Young Mariners defended with confidence throughout the match, defending across the park and holding their shape and all communicating with each other. Manny Giannaros, Jerry Kalouris, Sherlock and Luka Dukic all putting in some tough, uncompromising challenges that ensured that the bus-ride to Canberra would be uncomfortable for some of the AIS attackers.

The Mariners had a golden chance to increase their lead in the 56th minute with a glancing header from Gavin Forbes missing the far-post by inches.

Today-s encounter was also the first opportunity for the Bluetongue faithful to see the Mariners newest players, Nigerian-born, Australian raised striker Bernie Ibini-Isei. The 17-year-old was introduced into the action just after half-time and showed some nice touches of skill. His best chance to get his name on the scoring sheet came when he found himself in a race with Lennox to the ball in the 70th minute. Unfortunately for the debutant, the AIS custodian beat him to the ball on this occasion.

The Young Mariners were forced to soak up enormous amounts of pressure in the final quarter of the match, with the AIS forcing several corners.

Nik Matic came up with a solid save to deny a header from Trent Sainsbury at the near post in the 80th minute, and Kevin Davison had the visitors best chance to open their account moments later when he missed an open-net from five-yards.

The Mariners took the points, but Walmsley believes the side still needs to work even harder to improve if they are to realise their potential.

"Gav-s there as a centre-forward to get those tap-ins, and it-s great for his confidence to get one in and Panny-s was a great finish.

"Two opportunities came our way today and we took them, which is full credit to our boys," Walmsley said.

"Watching from the sidelines we were amazed at the number of corners that weren-t dealt with properly. That-s something we will need to address at training this week."

"It was very pleasing to get a clean-sheet today, that was the main positive from our performance.

"Another positive was Bernie getting his debut. He made some great runs and played very well in the second-half. He reads the game very well and is one step ahead of his opponents.

"We should have a full squad for the Adelaide game, Sherlock has a bit of a niggle in his groin but got through the game and should be ok, and Brady had a bit of problems with asthma, but thankfully he-s ok now," Walmsely said.

"We will go out and train and get ourselves ready for Adelaide. It-s a short-turnaround but we will be ready."

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Nikodin MATIC (GK), 2. Nathan SHERLOCK, 3. Jerry KALOURIS, 5. Luka DUKIC, (4. Matthew LIDDALL 61-) 6. Manny GIANNAROS, 8.Nick FITZGERALD, 9. Gavin FORBES, 10. Panny NIKAS (C), 12. Matthew Crowell, (7. Brendan GRIFFIN 45-) 14. Brady SMITH, (18. Bernie IBINI-ISEI 45-) 17. Matthew Lewis Unused Subs 20. Matthew RYAN (GK),

Yellow Cards NIKAS 47-, MATIC 90- Red Cards None Goals FORBES 4-, NIKAS 23-

AIS: 20. Aaron LENNOX (GK), 2. Trent SAINSBURY, 4. Marc WARREN , 5. Sam GALLAWAY,( 24. Scott MELLISH 56-) 6. Patrick DIXON (17. Kevin DAVISON 45-) 7. Terry ANTONIS, 10. Nikola STANOJEVIC (C), 11. Christopher BUSH, 13. Kamal IBRAHIM, 19. Curtis GOOD, (22. Jake BARKER-DAISH 56-) 26. Aaron PETERSON,

Unused Subs 30. Lachlan TIBBLES (GK).

Yellow Cards STANOJEVIC 33-, WARREN 38-, GALLAWAY 52-, BARKER-DAISH 85- Red Cards None Goals Nil


The Mariners- next home match of the National Youth League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United Friday, 22 January. Kick-off is at 5:15pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.