Young talent time for season decider
Central Coast Mariners Members and supporters will potentially get a glimpse into the future of the yellow and navy at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday, with two of the Mariners’ most exciting National Youth League (NYL) prospects drafted into an extended 17-man squad.
Central Coast Mariners Members and supporters will potentially get a glimpse into the future of the yellow and navy at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday, with two of the Mariners- most exciting National Youth League (NYL) prospects drafted into an extended 17-man squad.
Depending on the result of Friday-s match up between the Melbourne Victory and the Wellington Phoenix at the Telstra Dome, the Mariners- quest for a third Finals Series berth may well hinge on taking at least a point from their clash with Adelaide United.
To add further drama to the already tense scenario, two of the youngest squad members in the Mariners- four-year history have been tasked with securing the Mariners- top-four position, with outstanding local product Brady Smith introduced to Lawrie McKinna-s line up alongside NYL team-mate Matthew Lewis.
Smith, 19, and Lewis, 18, have each impressed in Mariners colours throughout the NYL season to date, with Smith leading the frontline with three goals from 13 starts, while midfielder Lewis netted his maiden strike against the Melbourne Victory last Saturday in his 13th NYL appearance.
Should Lewis take to the field against the Reds, he will become the youngest Mariners player ever to make his Hyundai A-League debut - a record that is currently held by former midfielder Ian McAndrew, who made a cameo appearance at Wellington-s Westpac Stadium in October 2007 aged 18 years, 7 months and 28 days.
"It-s a huge game, but I think that we-re very fortunate that Melbourne play Wellington on Friday night and we-ll know exactly what we have to do," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.
"Melbourne are pushing for the Premiership, so hopefully for us, Melbourne get a result, either a draw or a win and we will know exactly what we have to do although either way, as we always do, we will be striving to go into the Final Series on the back of a strong final round win regardless."
Sunday-s match at Bluetongue Stadium will mark the sixteenth occasion the Mariners have met Adelaide United in all competitions.
The Mariners- first meeting against Adelaide remains the Mariners- equal greatest ever triumph in a competitive fixture - a 4-0 thrashing at Bluetongue Stadium in the semi final of May 2005-s Club World Championship qualifying series.
Many of the Mariners- Hyundai A-League encounters against the Reds are favourably remembered in a historical sense, with former Adelaide guest player Romario-s Hyundai A-League debut against the Mariners in season two placed alongside John Aloisi-s first goals in Australian domestic football against his hometown club last season.
In addition, October-s epic 3-3 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium is commonly regarded as one of the truly memorable Hyundai A-League encounters of all time.
In total, the Mariners have won six matches against Adelaide, lost five and drawn five - having netted 24 goals in such time and having conceded 17.
"I think Adelaide have set the benchmark, they along with Melbourne were in the AFC Champions League last season and they-ve had a great Hyundai A-League season, people who say we-re playing enough games as it is, that theory goes right out the window," said McKinna.
"These guys have played a lot of games, especially Adelaide, and they-ve set the standards on what we have to do in Asia next year, if we can get close to what they-ve done it will be a huge achievement.
"Hopefully we can get a result, it doesn-t matter if we need it or we don-t need it, it-s good to go into your last game and get a result, get a bit of confidence back, have a weeks rest and get into it for the first Finals Series game."
Central Coast Mariners vs. Adelaide United
Bluetongue Stadium - Sunday, 25 January 2009, Kick off 7pm
DOB 26 Nov, 1974
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The Mariners will be back at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Sunday, 25 January to host AFC Champions League finalists Adelaide United in the final regular season round of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign. Kick off is at 7pm.
Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.