Central Coast Mariners’ National Youth League coach Tony Walmsley insists there is still plenty of work to do if his side is to win the minor premiership, but it took a giant leap toward the honour, by twice coming from behind to beat Perth 3-2 and move five clear at the top.
Central Coast Mariners- National Youth League coach Tony Walmsley insists there is still plenty of work to do if his side is to win the minor premiership, but it took a giant leap toward the honour, by twice coming from behind to beat Perth 3-2 and move five clear at the top.
Dylan Macallister and Panny Nikas twice drew the Coast back before standout striker Bernie Ibini-Isei made sure of the points with his 85th minute winner.
“It-s a massive result. We-re now five points clear of Adelaide and Perth, and all the big teams have still got each other to play,” said Walmsley.
“But we won-t take anything for granted at all, we play Newcastle next week at home, and if we can reproduce that form we-ll certainly do well, but the challenge is to reproduce that form and I wouldn-t be thinking of the premiership at this stage, it-s far too early.”
Nikas has led from the front all season for the young Mariners, and the skipper was the man to create the first opening on this occasion, as Nick Fitzgerald fed Jonathan Brown who in turn linked up with Nikas, his shot deflected for a second minute corner.
In fierce wind Perth goalkeeper Alex Pearson fumbled the looping corner, but recovered sufficiently to take Brady Smith-s header on the goal line.
Branko Jelic should have given his side the lead on six minutes when Cameron Edwards fired a cross in from the left, but an unmarked Jelic somehow missed getting his head on what would have been a point-blank finish.
It was less than a minute before the Serbian did put Perth one goal up though, when the wind, and in Mathew Ryan-s case the sun, conspired against the young Mariners custodian, unable to hold on to a free kick in from the right, and Jelic was on hand to tap in the loose ball.
Former Mariner Glen Tirifo fired over the bar and Nick Fitzgerald went on a mazy run into the penalty area for the Yellow and Navy, but Pearson made himself big and blocked Fitzgerald-s effort.
Matthew Cheeseman gave Tony Walmsley-s side a gilt edged opportunity to restore parity, when, on 22 minutes, the referee ruled Smith to have been fouled by Sam Mitchinson and pointed to the spot, but for the first time this season, Nikas was to be denied from 12 yards, when Pearson dived full-length to his right to parry the penalty kick around the post.
Ryan made up for his earlier blip with a spectacular save to tip a Dean Evans thunderbolt over the bar, while at the other end, Bernie Ibini-Isei, who had looked like one of the Mariners best up to that point, very nearly had a just reward for his toil, only to see his 20-yard shot deflected narrowly wide.
Ibini-Isei very nearly turned provider as he beat his marker to feed Jonathan Brown, the Welsh youth international firing at Pearson from a tight angle in the right channel, and experiencing a similar outcome a short time later after he latched on to a Dylan Macallister through ball on the left.
Macallister showed good strength early in the second half in holding the ball up inside the area, before winning a corner, and that started a period of dominance, with Brown heavily involved.
Firstly, the former Cardiff City and Wrexham speedster whipped a vicious ball in which Nikas headed barely over the bar, before Macallister headed another cross on for Ibini-Isei, who again could only watch on as Pearson somehow smothered the goalbound effort.
It proved to be third time lucky though, as his next delivery in as many minutes reached Macallister at the back post, and the imposing striker easily tucked it home to level at one-apiece.
Perth-s advantage would be restored no more than 60 seconds later though, as the Mariners- defence failed to clear a loose ball on the edge of the area, and Dean Evans stepped up to deposit a delightful curling shot into the top corner.
Brady Smith fired low at Pearson on 66 minutes as the Central Coast began chasing again, while Nikas fired over from 20 yards, but it wouldn-t be long before Walmsley-s men were level once more.
Ibini-Isei sent Shane Huke on a run down the left wing, and his pinpoint cross was met first time by Nikas, who acrobatically turned and powered a volley past Pearson, who was left with no chance.
With time running out, the Coast was sending men forward in numbers trying to find a winner, Pearson got a foot to a close range Macallister effort to keep his side in it, but it was the pace and vision of Brady Smith which would ultimately deliver a much deserved three points.
Sizing up his marker on the right side, Smith pushed the ball toward the byline and set off with blinding speed, leaving his defender flat footed, before firing in a great ball from the byline to Ibini-isei, who finally got the reward he so thoroughly deserved, by turning and sending his sweetly timed strike inside the near post, and sending the young Mariners five points clear at the top of the National Youth League ladder.
“We-re really happy with the performance in both halves. We were down a goal at half time and we thought with the pace and mobility we had in the final third we will hurt them,” Walmsley said.
“One goalkeeping error in the first half and a missed penalty, we could have easily have been a goal up rather than a goal down.
“When you are on top of the ladder young players can be distracted by the end of the game and the possibility of not winning rather than what needs to be done, and they-ve shown in the last three weeks with two hard fought draws and that 3-2 win, a fantastic mindset for young players.
“Perth was always in it, even though we dominated for large periods of the second half. We managed to hold things off at our end, and did the business in the final third.”
The Mariners- next home match of the National Youth League 2009/10 season will be against Newcastle Jets on Saturday, 6 February. Kick-off is at 3:15pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.
Central Coast Mariners 1. Mathew RYAN (GK), 2. Nathan SHERLOCK, 4. Matthew LIDDALL (15. Adam ORMSBY 61-), 6. Matthew LEWIS (7. Brendan GRIFFIN 64-), 8. Nick FITZGERALD, 10. Panny NIKAS (C), 12. Shane HUKE, 14. Brady SMITH, 17. Jonathan BROWN (9. Gavin FORBES 58-), 18. Bernie IBINI-ISEI, 19. Dylan MACALLISTER.
Unused Subs 20. Nik MATIC (GK).
Yellow Cards None
Red Cards None
Goals Macallister 57-, Nikas 77-, Ibini-Isei 85-
Perth Glory 1. Alex PEARSON (GK), 2. Ryan PEARSON, 3. Steven HESKETH (C), 4. Sam MITCHINSON, 5. Josh RISDON (11. Howard FONDYKE 60-), 6. Dean EVANS, 7. Cameron EDWARDS, 10. Glen TRIFIRO, 14. Branko JELIC (9. Mario MARCINKO 33-), 15. Wayne SHROJ (8. David PRICE 33-), 21. Hayden DOYLE.
Unused Subs 20. Timothy DOYLE (GK).
Yellow Cards Fondyke 90+3-
Red Cards None
Goals Jelic 7-, Evans 58-
Referee Mathew CHEESEMAN