Young Mariners eye off second spot

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth team will aim to emulate their Hyundai A-League counterparts by moving into second spot this weekend, should they get past Adelaide United tomorrow night.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth team will aim to emulate their Hyundai A-League counterparts by moving into second spot this weekend, should they get past Adelaide United tomorrow night.

The Young Mariners are coming off the back of a 3-nil thrashing of the Australian Institute of Sport and the pleasing thing for National Youth League Head Coach Tony Walmsley is that every member of the squad has made significant contributions in recent weeks, and the players who patrol the final third of the field have relished the quality of ball they have been receiving. Indeed the understanding that has developed between Mitchell Duke, Bernie Ibini-Isei, and Nick Fitzgerald has quickly evolved to become arguably one of the most dynamic attacking combinations in the league.

“They-re all players with great attacking ability, they all have a change of direction, they all have a change of pace, and they see opportunities that not every player sees. When that clicks they are very hard to handle,” said Walmsley.

“On the left you-ve got Sammy Gallagher and Matty Lewis who train together in those roles every week so we-ve got a promising combination on that side of the park as well, and then we had Zac Freeburn starting at right back in the previous match against Newcastle and did a decent job, so really we-ve got good combinations all around the field.

“It-s really a bonus to have these promising combinations everywhere around and gives us a very good base.”

An enforced festive season break has refreshed the squad both physically and mentally as the Young Mariners face a crowded January. Having already taken on the Newcastle Jets, and the AIS, the Young Mariners will face Brisbane Roar twice, Perth, Sydney and the Institute again to round off their season.

“I wouldn-t say the break was completely a complete rest for the players. We-ve taken a bit of the load off, as what we have noticed is fatigue building up in the players, especially those who are playing their second consecutive season of the National Youth League, and then went and played a season of State League.

“They-ve basically gone two years without a break so we have taken training down a notch before ramping it up in the lead up to the game against Newcastle,” Wamlsey said.

For Australia-s most talented youngsters who are plying their trade in the National Youth League competition, football has become a year round sport. With State League clubs looking to finalise their rosters in preparation for the upcoming season, it becomes a juggling act to keep everyone focused on the job at hand.

“There are always challenges especially now when there are state league clubs competing for the players services going into the new season.

“It-s a juggling act at the moment, and it-s not the easiest thing to keep everyone focused. When you add to that fatigue, we-ve got a number of challenges ahead of us,” said Walmsley.

It is the closeness of the competition that drives mathematicians to despair, and football lovers to enjoyment.

Clearly it is not a coincidence that the closest National Youth League competition yet coincides with the most number of youth players getting a chance at first team football.

With the Young Mariners sitting in fourth spot, a win against Adelaide United would keep the pressure on the teams just ahead of them on the ladder, and with games in hand it will make the next few weeks very interesting.

For their part Adelaide United are desperate to avoid a second straight loss at their home ground after enduring a 3-1 loss to Gold Coast United in their last match. Whilst results haven-t gone their way they still are a formidable side. The last time the two sides met the Mariners ran out 5-1 victors but the score line doesn-t reflect the missed chances that Adelaide produced that day.

Friday night-s hosts will remember that match in Budgewoi, and will be keen to prove it was an aberration. In such a close competition the points that are on offer to either side are vital.

Friday-s clash will be the 8th competitive clash between the two clubs.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team continue their 2010/11 National Youth League campaign this Friday, 21 January when they take on Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. Kick-off is at 4:30pm CDT.

Previous Meetings

Friday, 3 Oct 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 3, Hindmarsh Stadium Saturday, 15 Nov 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Adelaide United 6, Bluetongue Stadium Sunday, 25 Jan 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 2, Bluetongue Stadium Friday, 11 Sep 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Adelaide United 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Sunday, 1 Nov 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Adelaide United 1, McKellar Park Friday, 15 Jan 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Sunday, 5 Dec 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 5, Adelaide United 1, Budgewoi Soccer Club