Young Mariners nab first victory

The Central Coast Mariners have notched their first points of the 2010/11 National Youth League season with a gritty 2-nil win against the Melbourne Victory this morning at Budgewoi.

The Central Coast Mariners have notched their first points of the 2010/11 National Youth League season with a gritty 2-nil win against the Melbourne Victory this morning at Budgewoi.

Goals from Matthew Lewis and Adam Kwasnik were enough to separate the two sides in what can aptly be described as a war of attrition.

Mariners coach Tony Walmsely was pleased to get the points but concedes there is room for improvement in his side.

"Melbourne were very direct and very physical and tested our ability to keep the ball. I-m pleased for the boys because they did get the result, but it did highlight the amount of work we need to do to be a little more composed with the ball under that sort of pressure.

"The players today were taking up positions that didn-t allow us to make the most of the possession that we had. We struggled to get support in at the right time in the front third but it-s just a matter of tweaking those things and halftime gave us an opportunity to do that. What we were pleased with in the first half was that it was a physical game and we more than matched them in that area," said Walmsley.

Walmsley was happy with the efforts of his players across the park especially because there is a lot of competition for spots in the side.

"I-m pleased for Niko who will get a lot of confidence out of keeping a clean-sheet today.

"I think we have a very balanced squad within the team itself at the moment. The overage players did a great job for us today. It really tests the characters of the players who miss out. It also tests the character of the players who start as we sometimes have to play them in unfamiliar positions.

"For example today we played Mitch Mallia at left back and James Oates at centre back and in a real sense both were debutantes in those positions and did a great job for us today. I-m very happy with the depth we have at the moment," said Walmsley.

Boosted by the inclusion of Hyundai A-League squad members Adam Kwasnik, Chris Doig and Brad Porter the Young Mariners accelerated out of the blocks with Kwasnik firing off an audacious shot from distance after just thirty seconds of play.

With both sides desperate to kick-start their respective campaigns neither side were willing to compromise and as a result the match was played at a frantic pace. Melbournes- David Stirton found out first-hand what was at stake when he was crunched in a legitimate tackle in just the third minute. After hobbling around for a number of minutes he was able to get back onto the field and made some telling contributions for the visitors.

Melbourne had their appeals for handball turned down early and as a result the first real scoring chance of the match fell to the home side when Kwasnik was able to trap the ball on his chest, turn and volley in the 18th minute. Unfortunately for the enigmatic marksman the ball changed direction at the last second and missed the top corner by inches.

A consistent downpour was making conditions tough for the players and could explain the lack of scoring chances in the opening half-hour. But like the rain, when the chances came, they came in a deluge. In the last quarter of the first-half, the Young Mariners created five strong scoring chances.

In a promising sign for the Young Mariners Bernie Ibini-Isei, Nick Fitzgerald and Brendan Griffin started to demonstrate the understanding between them that made them one of the league-s most potent attacking forces in last season-s charge to the premiership. This was particularly evident when Griffin put through a lovely pass that split the defence and on a dry day would have put Ibini-Isei one on one with the ‘keeper. In truth though the pitch was in immaculate condition and held up well to the strain put on it in what was a physical contest.

Fitzgerald hit a sizzling shot in the 33rd minute that was expertly parried by Melbourne custodian Rani Dowisha. Unfortunately for the home side Dowisha was able to recover quickly enough to beat a charging Matt Lewis to the ball.

Mitchell Mallia, who by his high standards had a quiet game last start, pressed forward with a fine run just three minutes later. The resulting shot was struck with venom, but Dowisha was able to use his legs and made a solid save.

The pressure eventually got to the Victory and the Mariners opened the scoring in the 37th minute. Matthew Lewis was on hand to finish after some strong lead-up work from Mallia and Kwasnik. Lewis could have doubled his tally just four minutes later but his first time right footed volley went safely into the arms of Dowisha.

Brady Smith playing in his more familiar midfield role had a strong game with plenty of defensive work, and demonstrated a touch of pure class when he put Bernie Ibini-Isei away shortly before halftime. Ibini-Isei had his shot well blocked, as did Smith and Fitzgerald, who were lurking in support of their teammate.

The Mariners almost doubled their lead five minutes after the resumption of play when Kwasnik shot just over the bar. Instead this was a catalyst for a period of dominance from the visitors from the Victorian capital. Striker Daniel Chaabani went within inches of getting an equaliser after some strong lead-up play from out wide.

Mariners custodian Nikodin Matic really stood tall when the pressure was on, pulling off a number of stunning saves. The Mariners weathered the repeated raids from Melbourne and showed great desperation to clear the ball off their line twice in the space of a minute from the boots of James Oates and then Chris Doig.

Melbourne had two more strong chances to grab an equaliser but neither Jason Ricciuti nor Tedros Yabio were able to capitalise on their chances. Instead the Mariners seized the initiative and an intelligent inside pass from Ibini-Isei released Nick Fitzgerald on a long break, which only ended when he was clumsily brought down in the box by defender Jake Nakic.

Referee Andrew Best pointed to the penalty spot and Fitzgerald stepped up to finish the movement he had started only moments before. In a decision he later came to rue, Fitzgerald opted for finesse rather than power, and Melbourne custodian Dowisha was able to save the penalty.

The Mariners almost paid dearly for not finishing the Victory off with that penalty as Tedros Yabio had a chance to score in the 82nd minute when his shot was brilliantly saved by Matic and rebounded on to the crossbar.

To the visitors credit they threw absolutely everything at the Mariners in an attempt to claw their way back into the contest, but Tony Walmsley-s charges held firm in a defensive effort that should please their coach.

All three of the Mariners substitutions made telling contributions when they took the field in the second half. Jerry Kalouris was strong at the back during a period of sustained pressure, Sam Munro made some critical tackles in midfield and Max Glanville played a pivotal role in the match-sealing goal.

Glanville made a strong break down the right flank in the 87th minute and his cross, while initially appearing too deep, was fumbled by Dowisha straight into the path of Kwasnik for the easiest of tap-ins.

Glanville-s cameo wasn-t finished there and just seconds later he pulled off a strong challenge and fired off a shot that almost went into the top corner.

The match ended in bizarre circumstances when Melbourne were awarded a penalty off a fairly innocuous tackle by Kalouris. Traditionally teams have allocated penalty takers and the Melbourne Victory had several players stepping up to take the shot.

In the end the responsibility fell to Tedros Yabio who blasted his shot into the neighboring suburbs but nowhere near Matic-s net, and the match finished with a two-goal victory to the home side.

Match Details Central Coast Mariners 2 (Lewis 37-, Kwasnik 88-) Melbourne Victory 0

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Nikodin MATIC (gk), 3. Brad PORTER, 7. Brendan GRIFFIN (c) (6. Sam MUNRO 60-), 8. Nicholas FITZGERALD, 9. Bernie IBINI-ISEI, 11. Mitchell MALLIA, (4. Jerry KALOURIS 60-) 12. Matthew LEWIS, (2. Max GLANVILLE 60-), 14. Brady SMITH, 15. Chris DOIG, 16. Adam KWASNIK, 19. James OATES.

Subs not Used: 20. David BRADASEVIC (gk).

Yellow Cards: Griffin 32-, Doig 65-, Porter 65-, Kalouris 90+3- Red Cards: None

Melbourne Victory: 1.Rani DOWISHA (gk), 2. Luke PILKINGTON, 4. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS, 6. Paulo RETRE, 7. Luke O-DEA, (3. Jason RICCIUTI 60- and reversed in 81- interchange) 9. Tedros YABIO, 10. Damir LOKVANCIC, (8. Jake NAKIC 60-) 11. David STIRTON, 12. James KALAFATIDIS, (17. Daniel CHAABANI 50-) 14. Andrew MULLET, 15. Peter FRANJIC (c).

Subs not Used: 20. Alastair BRAY (gk).

Yellow Cards: Nakic 75-, Yabio 81- Red Cards: None

Referee:Andrew BEST


The Central Coast Mariners continue their NYL 2010/11 campaign away against Brisbane Roar at Spencer Park next Sunday October 17. Kick-off is at 4pm AEST.