Young Mariners ready for Sydney showdown

A goal-scoring spree over the last three weeks has propelled the Central Coast Mariners National Youth League into second spot on the ladder. As attention switches to their last F3 derby of the season against Sydney FC, the Young Mariners are aiming to keep the pressure on the table topping Gold Coast United.

A goal-scoring spree over the last three weeks has propelled the Central Coast Mariners National Youth League into second spot on the ladder. As attention switches to their last F3 derby of the season against Sydney FC, the Young Mariners are aiming to keep the pressure on the table topping Gold Coast United.

The Young Mariners have now netted 17 goals in 2011, and have conceded just 6. It is this defensive steel combined with sublime attacking skills that has ensured their meteoric rise up the competition table.

“Not just the finishing but our lead up play, in our last two games we have scored four and five goals and that could have been more,” said Mariners Head Coach Tony Walmsley.

“While the finishing has been good it-s the link play and combinations that have really improved. Toward the end of the season those things should be coming to the fore now and it mirrors the first team. In possession they are much slicker, and I-m pleased to say they are doing really well.”

Backing up for their second game in three days the Young Mariners were ruthless in putting a hapless Brisbane Roar to the sword 5-2 on Tuesday night, Bernie Ibini-Isei and Mitchell Mallia both cashed in on outstanding play by their teammates to net a brace, whilst Trent Sainsbury also got his name on the score sheet.

The goal rush has put the Mariners on equal points with their next opponents Sydney FC, but crucially ahead on goal difference. After going down in the City of Churches last weekend, an unhappy hunting ground too for the Yellow and Navy, Sydney will coming out all guns blazing when they host the Mariners on Saturday afternoon.

“The majority of our boys are from there and grew up with a lot of the Sydney boys which adds a bit of spice in their own minds.

“We have a good record against Sydney over the past two seasons, we struggled to beat them 2-1 earlier in the year, but we are playing a lot better now than we were then and if we can produce the same inventiveness that we have in the last two games then we are going to cause them a lot of problems.

“Our defence will need to tighten up a bit and we will need to cut out the sloppy mistakes to make sure we get a result down there,” Walmsley said.

After struggling against their Southern rivals in season one of the National Youth League, the Young Mariners enjoyed success against them last season with two wins and a draw. Matches between the two rivals are traditionally tight low-scoring affairs, and with so much at stake for the winner of Saturday-s clash it is sure to be no different.

Fresh in the mind of their Sydney rivals is the knowledge that the last time the two sides met at Budgewoi, a 2-1 victory to the Young Mariners was the catalyst for a winning streak that really kick-started the defending premiers season.

“It galvanised us. That game could have gone either way and in games prior to that we came away from some of them thinking we hadn-t got the results that we thought we-d deserved but there-s no question it kick-started our season and gave us a bit more belief.

The squad is a lot more settled now and when we recruited these guys we knew they had a lot of talent, but they are now gelling now, they-re now knitting together well and we-re in good shape,” Walmsley said.

Despite the fact they are playing their fourth competitive match since 29 January, the Mariners have such squad depth at the moment that they have been able to handle the physical challenges with aplomb. After their encounter with Sydney the Young Mariners have a week to recuperate before two tough matches against Brisbane at home, and the Australian Institute of Sport away rounds off their campaign.

“Gold Coast has had a bit of a blip but they-d need to lose their remaining games and we-d need to win all ours so rather than impossible it-s unlikely.

“The fixture scheduling is a little disappointing that we-d played Gold Coast three times in the first six weeks. Had we played them over a more balanced period we-re a much more capable team now than when we had played them previously and we were close to them then so had there been a finals series we-d be very confident.

“Finishing second is our target now and if Gold Coast slip then great,” Walmsley said.

Saturday-s clash with Sydney FC will be the eighth time the two rivals have met in a competitive fixture.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side continues its 2010/11 National Youth League campaign this Saturday, 5 February against Sydney FC at Marconi Stadium. Kick-off is at 6pm AEST.

Previous Meetings

Sat, 1 November 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Sydney FC 2, Sydney Football Stadium Sat, 13 November 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Sydney FC 3, Bluetongue Stadium Sat, 14 February 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Sydney FC 1, Pluim Park Sat, 3 October 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 3, Sydney FC 1, Seymour Shaw Park Wed, 23 December 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Sydney FC 1, Sydney Football Stadium Sat, 6 March 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 0, Sydney FC 0, Pluim Park Sat, 27 November 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Sydney FC 1, Budgewoi Soccer Club

Central Coast Mariners squad: David BRADASEVIC (gk), Nik MATIC (gk), Sam MUNRO, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Mitchell DUKE, Max GLANVILLE, Zac FREEBURN, Alex MANSUETO, Brendan GRIFFIN, Mitchell MALLIA, Jimmy OATES, Nick FITZGERALD, Nathan JAGELMAN, Jerry KALOURIS. *one to be added*

Sydney FC squad: Aaron LIDDELL (gk), Mitchell SPEER, Luke AUSTIN, David VRANKOVIC, Tommy CIRJAK, Georgio SPERENZA, Jared LUM, Blake POWELL, Joel CHIANESE, David GULLO, Justin Hayward, Peter SIMONOSKI, Nathan SHERLOCK (c), Wely AL-RIKABY

Referee: Matthew Cropper