The Central Coast Mariners Academy’s U18’s, U20’s and First Grade sides have qualified for the PS4 NPL 2 finals series. The 18’s have earned the week off after claiming the Premiership but on Sunday the 20’s and First Grade sides will do battle in their first finals fixtures.
After a tight 1-0 win over Spirit FC last weekend, the Central Coast Mariners Academy First Team claimed 4th position on the PS4 NPL 2 ladder.
It was all on the line for the Academy last weekend and it took a clutch Brenton Fox free-kick to seal it for the youngsters, who in turn, qualified for this weekend’s final series.
Week one of the finals series will see them take on the North Shore Mariners this Sunday at Lilys Football Centre, with kick off set for 4:30 pm.
The two previous affairs between the two sides have been action packed, with the most-recent ending in a 2-2 draw in round 23, and a 4-3 loss in round 10 at Northbridge Oval.
It has been an outstanding season for the Mariners front men, who have been kept scoreless just once all season, scoring a whopping 70 goals.
The Mariners enter this weekends ‘do-or-die‘ fixture on the back of two wins and seven goals, with five coming off the boot of Brenton Fox, who finished second in the golden boot standings with 20 goals, four behind the winner Sean Rooney of Marconi Stallions.
Joe Haywood’s North Shore found themselves in a sticky situation in round 19, in 11th position on 23 points. A scintillating seven-game winning streak since then has seen North Shore fly into the finals after a 6-1 thumping of Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend.
This Sunday’s fixture shapes to be an exciting battle between two free flowing and attacking Mariners teams, the winner will then vs. St. George FC or Marconi on Sunday September 10.
This week we caught up with academy player Tom Lyons. ‘Tommy‘ has played a crucial role in the Academy’s success this season and the 19-year-old is looking forward to continuing on in the finals series.
Lyons paid testament to the Mariners performances in the lead up to the finals.
“It was tight going into the semi-finals and we showed that we mean business, performing well in most games and scoring goals regularly,” Lyons said. “We put the competition on notice when we beat Marconi midway through the season and we are looking forward to playing more good football in the finals.
“Obviously Foxy and Duncan have been very important to our run but they know it’s a team effort, and without the work of all 15 players in the match day squad we wouldn’t be in the position we are now.
“Ben, Will and Pete, as well as the rest of the coaching staff have worked tirelessly to ensure the Academy was successful this year, and the players have paid them back with some good performances on the pitch, with all three senior grades making the finals.
Lyons praised the younger academy players who have worked their way into the first team this PS4 NPL 2 season.
“There has been a massive influx of young players into the first grade squad this season which is a huge benefit to the club,” Lyons said. “It shows that the Mariners have a bright future with so many young players given a chance in first grade.
“The plan for this weekend is to play the way we know we can, we know we can score goals so if we tighten up in defence we are confident we will be playing football next week.
“Ben has taught us that it’s not just about results, it’s about the process.
“It would be great to see a lot of our fans down there on Sunday to supports the 20’s and first grade. The support we get has played a part in our results this season and hopefully it is no different this week,” Lyons said.
Sunday September 3 2017
PlayStation NPL Men’s 2 Finals Series
Match: Central Coast Mariners Academy vs North Shore Mariners
Venue: Lilys Football Centre
Also on Sunday our Under 20’s side take on Hills Brumbies at Lilys Football Centre, with kick off set for 2pm.
It has been an outstanding season for Will Vasquez’ men, who have scored a whopping 85 goals and conceded 36, having a goal differential of 49.
The U20’s have adapted with a lot of squad movement this season, with players coming up from the 18’s, as well as promoting players to First Grade, making their 3rd place finish even more impressive.
The U20’s are unbeaten in their last seven games and will be full of confidence going into this weekend’s fixture, defeating Spirit FC 6-2 last weekend.
Mariners’ Opponents, Hill Brumbies scraped into the finals, finishing the season with 38 points, winning two of their last five and losing their most previous fixture 6-4 to Mounties Wanderers.
Hills have been inside the top seven teams all season, showing consistency that most teams in the Under 20’s competition struggle for.
Last year’s Central Coast Mariners Academy player of the year, Jordan Bennett has been a mainstay for the Under 20’s side this year. Bennett has been a big part of Will Vasquez’ success in defence and will no doubt be looking to continue his fine form in this Sunday’s elimination final.
“We have had a pretty strong season, with players coming in and out of the squad we have managed to stay strong and played quality, consistent football,” Bennett said.
“We have stuck to the same system and we can beat any team. We treat every game as a must win and this week is an actual do-or-die game, so we will be up for it.
“We take everything week-to-week, but all three grades have the self-belief that we can all go the way, it’s a good culture that the coaches have drilled into us.
“Personally, I have been able to learn new things from all the coaches this season. They have a connection with all the boys and it’s a great culture they have built here this year,” Bennett said.
Sunday September 3 2017
PlayStation NPL Men’s 2 U20’s Finals Series
Match: Central Coast Mariners Academy vs Hills Brumbies
Venue: Lilys Football Centre