Young Mariners Roaring Up The Ladder

A hard fought win over the Melbourne Victory last Saturday has seen the Mariners National Youth League side retain top spot on a highly congested table.

A hard fought win over the Melbourne Victory last Saturday has seen the Mariners National Youth League side retain top spot on a highly congested table.

Brady Smith-s first goal of the campaign and a late penalty from captain Panny Nikas were enough to seal the points in what was a tough, physical game for Tony Walmsley-s charges.

"It was a good result from the boys to get up 2-1 on the weekend, Melbourne are a strong side and they came out firing and play a strong game against us. It was a tough game and for us to get the result in the final minutes showed good character," said captain Nikas.

"The most pleasing part was all the boys showed commitment up until the final whistle and from our point of the view the result was very positive."

As the season progresses what has become apparent is that the Young Mariners have a very well organised and mature defensive structure. The Mariners all support each other in defence and this constant pressure frustrates teams.

Melbourne-s Nathan Elasi had first hand experience on the weekend with the Young Mariners uncompromising defence. The three-goal hero from the last time these two sides met was kept scoreless, despite having numerous chances to get his name on the score sheet.

Nikas believes the team defended well but was disappointing about conceding the goal in the second half.

"Again the goal came after the break and we do need to be more focussed in that ten to fifteen minute period straight after half time. I thought we defended strongly as a team against Melbourne.

"They managed to smack the ball past us in quick succession the last time we played them down there. Ideally we aim to keep clean sheets every time we play but to concede only the one this time was a good team effort," Nikas said.

The Mariners are familiar with their next opponents, Saturday-s encounter being the third time the two combatants have met this season.

"On the occasions we-ve met them this season they play a very quick passing game and are well organised across the park. I-d expect them to play a very similar game to that this weekend. Of course them being away from home they may choose to play a different style of game and we have to be ready for that," Nikas said.

The Mariners are aiming for a third consecutive win for only the second time this season, and victory on Saturday would further consolidate their position on the table.

It won-t be an easy task for the Young Mariners with Brisbane desperate to get revenge after the Central Coast side took maximum points from their two clashes in the northern state.

For the record, the Young Mariners recent form has been impressive, they have netted seven goals and conceded three in their last 180 minutes of football. Their last two victories have been very different, a free-flowing 5-2 win over Gold Coast United and the gritty 2-1 victory over Melbourne.

It is the knowledge that his side can grind out wins that has pleased Nikas who also concedes that the team has plenty of improvement left in them.

"Even in that Gold Coast game there were still areas where we needed to work on and keep up the intensity for the full ninety minutes. It is pleasing to know that we can grind out wins like we did against Melbourne," Nikas said.

The Mariners skipper is under no illusion about what is required for his team to continue to improve.

"We need to continue training hard, working together as a team, work to improve our areas of weakness and go out and play our normal game at home on Saturday."

Saturday-s clash with the Brisbane Roar will be the sixth competitive meeting between the two sides, and the third of this campaign.

Previous Meetings

Sat 6 Dec 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1 Queensland Roar 0, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Sat 20 Dec 2008 - Central Coast Mariners 1 Queensland Roar 2, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane Sat 10 Jan 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 0 Queensland Roar 3, Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Sun 18 Oct 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 2 Brisbane Roar 1, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane Sat 14 Nov 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 3 Brisbane Roar 1, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane

Central Coast Mariners squad: Matthew RYAN (GK), Nik MATIC (GK), Matthew LEWIS, David GULLO, Nick FITZGERALD, Gavin FORBES, Panny NIKAS (C), Brady SMITH, Nathan SHERLOCK, Adam ORMSBY, Manny GIANNAROS, Brendan GRIFFIN, Matthew LIDDALL, Graz TRIMBOLI, Mitchell MALLIA, Luka DUKIC, Jerry KALOURIS. *two to be omitted*

Unavailable: Nil

Brisbane Roar squad: Matt ACTON (GK), Matthew BYRNE, Isaka CERNAK, Kenneth DOUGALL, Albert EDWARDS, Jordan FARINA, Luke MUIR (GK), Alistair QUINN, Bob MALCOLM (OA) Josh McVEY, Calum O-CONNELL, Michael RYAN, Antony SCHIAVO, Tyler THURTELL, Daniel TESORO, Stefan VRBESIC *one to be omitted*

Unavailable: Nil

Referee: Stuart WOLFE

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team is in action this Saturday, 19 December when it takes on Brisbane Roar at Bluetongue Stadium. Kick-off is at 3:10pm AEST. Tickets for this match are available online at or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online at or by phoning 1300 767 442.