Young Mariners turn up the heat under the Queensland sun

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side has returned to the winners’ circle, and the top of the ladder, following a dominant 5-2 victory over previous league leader Gold Coast United in stifling heat at Southport.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League side has returned to the winners- circle, and the top of the ladder, following a dominant 5-2 victory over previous league leader Gold Coast United in stifling heat at Southport.

"After two clean sheets it was good to get back among the goals. The big motivator for the players was that they could go top if they won. Sitting in fifth before the game, after the results last night there was a bit of pressure on them, and Lawrie (McKinna) was there, and Miron (Blieberg) was there, so I was pleased that everybody delivered today," said National Youth League coach Tony Walmsley.

With other results across the weekend, the Mariners had found themselves as low as fifth on the National Youth league ladder, but knew three points would see them rocket back into top spot, such is the closeness of the competition.

Tony Walmsley-s men showed their attacking intent from the outset, as firstly Dylan Macallister - on his return from injury - forced a rushed clearance from a good ball into the area, before he chested down a good delivery from Matthew Lewis for Nik Mrdja, who was unlucky to see his low drive go wide of the post.

The Mariners wide players of Brady Smith on the right and Nick Fitzgerald on the left were providing the creative spark, and it was Fitzgerald who went on the next attacking raid, winning a corner after a strong run to the byline on 17 minutes.

From the ensuing set piece, Mrdja forced Gold Coast custodian Jerrad Tyson into tipping a volley over the bar, and the next corner had an even better outcome.

Nikas- ball in wasn-t dealt with by the home side-s defence, and Dylan Macallister got the decisive touch on the loose ball, sliding the ball home through Tyson-s legs.

The Mariners- ball movement was clinical through toe opening half, and Macallister provided evidence of that when he fed Smith, the Wyoming junior-s shot was well smothered though by Tyson.

There was the chance to double the advantage when Zac Anderson brought Mrdja down in the box as the former Socceroo was set to pull the trigger, leaving Alan Milliner with no other option to point to the spot, and add Anderson-s number to his book.

Mariners skipper Panny Nikas stepped up to the spot, and although Tyson went the right way, he was unable to stop the powerfully struck low penalty.

It should have been 3-nil on 34 minutes, Macallister put a good ball in to find Smith - who had been a standout throughout the opening half - at the back post, but somehow, his first time effort from point blank range managed to cannon into the crossbar.

Indeed, such was the visitors- domination of the first 45 minutes, it was Mariners- defenders who had arguably the hosts best chances, as first Nathan Sherlock shanked a clearance narrowly over Andrew Redmayne-s crossbar, before left-back Matthew Lewis headed a Gold Coast corner into the side netting.

The hosts came out after the break looking keen to peg a goal back, and Mitchell Bevan had a couple of chances, first sending a shot from outside the area high and wide, before forcing Redmayne into a fine one handed save to block a back post header.

Matthew Crowell sent a fierce low drive wide on 53 minutes, but it wouldn-t be long before the Mariners ultimately had a third.

Mrdja played a lovely ball through to Matthew Lewis in the left channel, and Lewis finished inch perfectly past Tyson at an acute angle.

Adam Ormsby, Mitchell Mallia and Luka Dukic were introduced on the hour, and the latter two combined to very nearly put the Mariners four up, as Mallia laid the ball off for Dukic, who forced Tyson into a fine diving save.

The fourth wasn-t far off through, Matthew Lewis whipped in a corner from the right, and it was met by Huke, who sent a bullet header past Tyson for his second of the afternoon.

But just as the visitors thought they were cruising to victory, Gold Coast found another gear, as Ben Wearing headed into the crossbar, and the rebound fell to Steven Lustica, who gratefully tucked the ball away.

Three minutes later and the hosts had halved the deficit, when the Central Coast defence failed to deal with a corner from Koh Satake, allowing Chris Harold to finish from close range at the back post.

The three-goal advantage was restored though, Mallia delivering a lovely ball across for Ormsby on the right edge of the area, who fired underneath a diving Tim Anderson, who had replaced Tyson a short time earlier.

Ormsby was sent on a run down the right by Fitzgerald as the clock wound down, but his cross was easy pickings for Anderson, while at the other end, replacement ‘keeper Nik Matic produced two impressive one-on-one saves to deny Harold.

The young Mariners were able to survive the six minutes of time added on in the stifling heat, to register their first win in three matches, and climb back up to top spot.

Walmsley was pleased at the application over 90 minutes, after letting good performances slip in recent weeks against Perth and Melbourne.

"We worked a little bit harder this week, just in case there was a physiological reason why we weren-t finishing games off, but to be fair the lads showed a great deal of fitness during the week, so I wasn-t too worried about that.

"When they scored two goals in the space of five minutes it put the cat amongst the pigeons a little bit, especially with young players, but once they got their shape back they were OK.

"We were happy with the ball movement and the quality of the goals. The two things we wanted to focus on today were when we were in good shape defensively to press well and win the ball back, and to keep the ball in hot conditions, because in the last two weeks we haven-t kept the ball at all well, and consequently we-ve been chasing games and running out of steam in the last ten minutes, whereas this time not only did we keep the ball, we created chances and scored some goals, which takes the pressure off.

"Brady (Smith) and Fitzy (Nick Fitzgerald) were brilliant. It-s days like this when you hate the 30 minute rule because you have to take two guys off to balance your bench and put two guys on, on any normal day those two would have played 90 minutes because they had an outstanding game.

"Nik Mrdja was fantastic again, he got dropped from the first team but came back and led the line extremely well, and it was good to see Dylan (Macallister) back on the park, he got through 60 minutes and he-ll be better for that, but in general I can-t fault any players today," said Walmsley.

And to score five against a team which had previously conceded only eleven goals all season - the lowest of any National Youth League outfit - was particularly pleasing.

"We-ve scored a lot of goals but have tended to leak goals at the other end. Gold Coast were top of the league for a reason and Mike (Mulvey) has got them running extremely well, against them in the first round they showed us how capable they were, but we always felt we could nick goals against them, but to score five was probably more than we expected," said Walmsley.

The Mariners- next home match of the National Youth League 2009/10 season will be against Melbourne Victory on Saturday, 12 December. Kick-off is at 4:15pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs are available online by clicking here

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK) (20. Nik MATIC (GK). 68-), 2. Nathan SHERLOCK, 6. Manny GIANNAROS, 7. Matthew LEWIS, 8. Nick FITZGERALD (5. Luka DUKIC 60-), 9. Nik MRDJA (8. Nick FITZGERALD 72-), 10. Panny NIKAS (C), 12. Shane HUKE, 14. Brady SMITH (15. Adam ORMSBY 60-), 18. Matthew CROWELL, 19. Dylan MACALLISTER (11. Mitchell MALLIA 60-).

Unused Subs None

Yellow Cards Sherlock 59-, Ormsby 90-, Fitzgerald 90+1- Red Cards None Goals Macallister 19-, Nikas 29-(pen), Lewis 58-, Huke 63-, Ormsby 78-

Gold Coast United 1. Jerrad TYSON (GK) (20. Tim ANDERSON (GK). 65-), 2. Steven TOPALOVIC, 6. Mitchell BEVAN, 7. Zac ANDERSON, 8. Steven LUSTICA (C), 9. Chris HAROLD, 10. Koh SATAKE, 12. Golgol MEBRAHTU (4. Neko VUJEVICH 46-), 14. Joshua BRILLIANTE, 16. Wayne BUCHANAN (5. Ben WEARING 46-), 17. MILSON (11. Ben HALLORAN 46-).

Unused Subs None

Yellow Cards Harold 17-, Zac Anderson 28-, Lustica 70- Red Cards None Goals Lustica 70-, Harold 73-

Referee Alan MILLINER