Young Mariners Preparing For Coastal Ambush

The Central Coast Mariners sit atop of the National Youth League table but are well aware of how quickly fortunes can change in football. Just four points separate the top four sides heading into Friday’s encounter with Gold Coast United.

The Central Coast Mariners sit atop of the National Youth League table but are well aware of how quickly fortunes can change in football. Just four points separate the top four sides heading into Friday-s encounter with Gold Coast United.

Last Friday-s scoreless draw against Adelaide United in the city of Churches was enough to see the Mariners maintain a two-point buffer over Perth Glory. Demonstrating the closeness of the competition the Glory was able to claw back a point with its own draw some forty-eight hours later.

A win in the match against Adelaide United in midweek would have allowed the Glory to leapfrog Tony Walmsley-s charges into the much-coveted top spot on the ladder. But Perth was unable to capitalise on this chance meaning that this Friday-s clash against Gold Coast United takes on extra significance for the team in yellow and navy.

In their last outing in the South Australian capital the Young Mariners played well but were unable to net the goal that would have allowed them to take the three points. Defender Nathan Sherlock was happy to get a point but believed the team could have done more with their chances.

"I thought it was a pretty close game with chances to win the game from both teams. Adelaide played extremely well, they are a very structured, very organised side. Adelaide is a tough away trip so we-re happy to get the point from that perspective," Sherlock said.

Coach Tony Walmsley expressed similar sentiments after the match in Adelaide.

"It was a frustrating day. We dominated for long periods but to be fair to them the last ten minutes could have gone either way because it was end to end with everyone trying to snatch a winner," Walmsley said.

Adelaide could have sent the Young Mariners home empty-handed but for the efforts of custodian Matthew Ryan who spectacularly saved a penalty.

Nathan Sherlock - the man responsible for the infringement - breathed a sigh of relief when Ryan managed to keep the shot from hitting the back of the net.

"I was definitely the most relieved man on the park when Matt saved that penalty. I thought it probably was a penalty but that-s football some weeks they-re called, some weeks they aren-t. Matty is a fantastic young ‘keeper and he did really well to get down and save that penalty. I think the credit should go to our keeping coaches who have trained our ‘keepers really well," Sherlock said.

Over the past few rounds the Mariners have played in stifling conditions but the defender believes that since their first encounter with the unforgiving elements the team has adjusted well.

"When we played Melbourne the first time down there I think that was when we learned how much it can take out of us. We-re used to the heat from training," Sherlock said.

Crucially despite the mercury rising ever higher the Young Mariners keep picking up points.

Points, which may even prove season defining in six weeks time.

"I think we-ve been playing well and we-ve achieved the goals of where we wanted to be at the halfway mark of the year. I think we-re above where we expected to be so that-s a real positive. I think we-re in a good position to really kick on and every game is an important one for us," Sherlock said.

Their next opponents Gold Coast United are desperate for revenge when they travel to Bluetongue Stadium this Friday night. They are coming off a 3-1 loss to Sydney FC and are chasing their historic first win over the Young Mariners.

The last time the two combatants met the Mariners handed them their first home defeat with a 5-2 thrashing in Southport. No doubt still smarting about that result and lamenting the draw against the Mariners in round two, there is no doubt that the Gold Coast will come ready to play.

Sherlock is anticipating a tough game but is looking forward to the challenge.

"Gold Coast will be a tough opponent they-re well coached and play with a good structure. It will be a tough, physical game," Sherlock said.

This game will be more than that, it will be a Friday night thriller.

Friday-s clash with Gold Coast United will be the third competitive clash in the battle for the coast.

Previous Meetings

Sat, 19 Sep 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 3 Gold Coast United 3, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Sun, 6 Dec 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 5, Gold Coast United 2, Southport Tigers, Southport

Central Coast Mariners squad: Matthew RYAN (GK), Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), Dylan MACALLISTER (OA), Jonathan BROWN (OA), Panny NIKAS (C), Matthew LEWIS, Brady SMITH, Nathan SHERLOCK, Manny GIANNAROS, Jerry KALOURIS, Adam ORMSBY, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Nick FITZGERALD, Mitchell MALLIA, Gavin FORBES.

Unavailable: Nil

Gold Coast United squad: Jerrad TYSON [gk], Mitchell BEVAN, Koh SATAKE, Steven TOPALOVIC, Ben HALLORAN, Neko VUJEVICH, Chris HAROLD, Ben HARRISON, Callum HARE, Steven LUSTICA (c), Zac ANDERSON, Reuban WAY, Ben WEARING, Tim ANDERSON [gk] *one to be added*

Unavailable: Golgol MEBRAHTU (hamstring injury - indefinite), Joshua BRILLANTE (concussion - 1 week)

Referee: Kris GRIFFITH-JONES

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team is in action this Friday 22nd January when they take on Gold Coast United at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford. Kickoff is at 5:15pm AEST. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.