Young Mariners chasing victory

It was the experience of a lifetime for the Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team as they trained against the Paraguayan National side at Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday. The Young Mariners will be hoping to put the skills learned in that session into practice as they attempt to arrest their slide in the NYL against cellar-dwellers Melb

It was the experience of a lifetime for the Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team as they trained against the Paraguayan National side at Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday. The Young Mariners will be hoping to put the skills learned in that session into practice as they attempt to arrest their slide in the NYL against cellar-dwellers Melbourne Victory at Budgewoi this Saturday.

It has been a frustrating start to the season for last years- premiers with two losses and a bye from their opening three matches. In the opening match the Mariners took the lead against Gold Coast United early before conceding two second-half goals, whilst against the AIS last weekend the side conceded two first-half goals to go down 2-nil.

Against the AIS the Young Mariners showed glimpses of the passing game that propelled them to the summit of the National Youth League ladder last season. They created at least seven good scoring chances throughout the match but like their Hyundai A-League counterparts lacked ruthlessness in the final third. AIS ‘keeper Aaron Lennox made several spectacular saves, which kept his side in the match and had even the Mariners faithful applauding.

Head coach Tony Walmsley believes that the challenge over the next few weeks is to keep his charges fresh and motivated as they settle into the rhythm of the National Youth League.

“I think the boys did need a confidence booster after Saturday. We-ve spoken about how jaded some of them are. I think what we need to remember is that the core of the group have played state league, youth league, state league, and then youth league again.

“The players have actually said they feel fresh and thought they went ok against the AIS, and had their ‘keeper not pulled off some great saves it could have been a different story. We-re mindful of keeping everything enjoyable so this opportunity came at a great time,” Walmsley said.

That opportunity was to train against 2010 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinalists Paraguay as they put their own finishing preparations ahead of their friendly against the Qantas Socceroos. Understandably the players got a huge thrill out of taking on a side of such calibre and hopefully the Young Mariners will take that confidence into their clash against the Melbourne Victory.

“I think the boys got a clear picture of what is required to get up to that very top level and I think they gained confidence when they understood what was required of them tactically. Some of them towards the end of the session were looking very comfortable in that environment.

“The players took a lot out of the session,” said Walmsley.

Their upcoming opponents are looking to kick-start their own campaign with a victory at Budgewoi on Saturday. The Victory currently prop up the NYL ladder and are coming off a similarly disjointed preparation with their Round 3 fixture against Gold Coast United postponed due to inclement weather.

Walmsley is under no illusions about the challenges his side face.

“In the context of the league there are still 18 games to go and a lot of points to be gained. It-s definitely important for the confidence of the boys that we get some points on the board this week. It won-t do much for our standing on the ladder at this stage, but it-s a home game with the chance to turn around our form, which has been good against the Gold Coast and the AIS into a decent result.”

There is more than points on offer for many members of the squad as these competition games are an opportunity to state their case for selection while their teammates are on Australian duty at the AFC U-19 Championship in Zibo, China.

The Central Coast side has an intriguing record over the Melbourne Victory. In their six previous clashes they have won three, drawn two and have lost only one match in a lopsided affair in Melbourne last season. Included in those results was the Mariners history first victory in the NYL in 2008.

Of course statistics are meaningless when the players take the field of play. All 22 players will have one thing in their mind when they meet and that is to get the three points.

Three points for either side this weekend will get them off the bottom of the ladder and allow them the opportunity to reel in the early season pace-setters.

Both sides have very talented squads so it will be an entertaining and open match.

Saturday-s clash with Melbourne Victory will be the 7th competitive clash between the two clubs.

Previous Meetings

Saturday, 11 Oct 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Bluetongue Stadium Saturday, 22 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Melbourne Victory1, Bob Jane Stadium Saturday, 17 Jan 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Epping Soccer Stadium Sunday, 8 Nov 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Melbourne Victory 4, Veneto Club Saturday, 12 Nov 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Bluetongue Stadium Saturday, 20 Feb 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Melbourne Victory 1, Epping Soccer Stadium

Central Coast Mariners squad: David BRADASEVIC (gk), Chris DOIG, Mitchell DUKE, Nick FITZGERALD, Max GLANVILLE, Brendan GRIFFIN, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Nathan JAGELMAN, Jerry KALOURIS, Adam KWASNIK, Matthew LEWIS, Mitchell MALLIA, Alex MANSUETO, Nikodin MATIC (gk), Sam MUNRO, Jimmy OATES, Adam ORMSBY, Brad PORTER, Brady SMITH. *four to be omitted*

Unavailable: Nikola STANOJEVIC (international duty)

Melbourne Victory squad: Nicholas ANSELL, Luke PILKINGTON, Tedros YABIO, Rani DOWISHA, David STIRTON, Damir LOKVANCIC, James KALAFATIDIS, Jason RICCIUTI, Jake NAKIC, Anthony SELEMIDIS, Alastair BRAY, Paulo RETRE, Peter FRANJIC, HATZIKOSTAS Stephen, Luke O-DEA.

Unavailable: James JEGGO (Leg)

Referee: Andrew BEST

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team is in action this Saturday 9th October, when they take on Melbourne Victory FC at Budgewoi Soccer Club, Budgewoi. Kickoff is at 10am AEST.