Mariners edge Young Socceroos

The Central Coast Mariners have edged out the Qantas Young Socceroos 1-nil, in a behind-closed-doors training match at Bluetongue Stadium this morning.

The Central Coast Mariners have edged out the Qantas Young Socceroos 1-nil, in a behind-closed-doors training match at Bluetongue Stadium this morning.

Patricio Perez-s second half goal was the difference, and no less than the Mariners deserved after dominating for large periods, in the Young Socceroos only hitout before leaving the country to continue preparations for next month-s AFC Under 19-s Championships.

The match was designed to give Jan Versleijen a chance to look at his Young Socceroos side in a competitive environment before jetting out to Hong Kong, and on to China, and the opening 45 minutes was, justifiably, played out as if it were a training session.

Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold watched on from high in the Bluetongue Stadium stands, and he too could use the game to his advantage, as he gave game time to players who haven-t been as involved in the early part of the Hyundai A-League campaign, such as Chris Doig, Matthew Lewis and Patricio Perez, the Argentine coming off the back of his most significant involvement of the season so far, an 80 minute hitout against Gold Coast United on Sunday.

With the Mariners sticking to the 4-4-2 diamond formation they have been so accustomed to, Nik Mrdja and Adam Kwasnik looked to pressure the Young Socceroos defence, as twice Mrdja bore down on goal from the left edge of the box, albeit without the ultimate reward.

The Mariners enjoyed long periods of dominance in the opening half, with Perez and Lewis both providing dangerous balls into the box from several corners, but each time, Versleijen-s side, marshalled at the back by young Adelaide Custodian Mark Birighitti, were able to hold firm.

At the other end Paul Henderson, making his first appearance in Mariners colours looked smart as he was able to smother the occasional attacking raid spearheaded by Kerem Bulut and Eli Babalj.

Mrdja had a final chance as the clock wound down but once again, his effort from 20 yards ended wide.

It was an altogether different affair after the break, as 17-year-old Mustafa Amini, playing for his country against his club, cannoned a 25 yard drive into the crossbar, while Brad Porter had an on target shot deflected wide after good lead-up work by Adam Kwasnik and Perez.

Mrdja lined up to take a free kick on the right edge of the box but Birighitti managed to get his fingertips to it, and the Mariners thought they had a reward for their dominance when Mrdja tapped in from close range after a build up which deserved a goal at the end of it.

Kwasnik showed great vision to flick the ball up for Perez who went on a mazy run through the middle of the park before laying off for Porter on the right flank. Mrdja met his cross for the easiest of finishes, only for the Assistant Referee to rule he was offside.

Five minutes later the richly deserved goal did arrive, as Josh Rose crossed from the byline, and after bobbling in the area, Perez smashed home from close range to confirm what was a deserved victory.

“It was not only good for Jan, it was good for us as well, because we have a lot of guys like Chris Doig, Adam Kwasnik, Nik Mrdja and Brad Porter who haven-t had much game time, as well as Perez, so to get them out of the field and 9-0 minutes under their belt is good,” said Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold.

“Overall it was a good hitout. We-re happy with the workout, it was good for a training session.

“It-s good to keep momentum going. When you have the bye you can go one or two ways, you can either have a break and give the players time to refresh with some down time but we have North Queensland next week, it-s an extremely important game that we have to get three points out of.

“We-ve got seven points from nine in the three games we-ve played at home, I-ve stressed to the playing group how important home games are so if we can get three points at home next week it will be great for us.”

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Perez 75-)
Qantas Young Socceroos 0

Central Coast Mariners: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk), 3. Josh ROSE (16. Brady SMITH 77-), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON (21. Adam ORMSBY 70-), 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (22. Brendan GRIFFIN 86-), 9. Nik MRDJA, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 17. Chris DOIG, 23. Adam KWASNIK.

Subs Not Used: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 11. Max GLANVILLE, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Nick FITZGERALD,.

Qantas Young Socceroos: 1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 4. Sam GALLAGHER, 7. Kofi DANNING, 8. Rhyan GRANT (15. Ryan EDWARDS 77-), 9. Eli BABALJ (27. Dimitrios PETRATOS 77-), 10. Kerem BULUT, 14. Daniel BOWLES, 19. Mustafa AMINI, 20. Nikola STANOJEVIC, 23. Steven LUSTICA, 26. Marc WARREN.

Subs Not Used: 18. Matthew ACTON (gk), 21. Alex PEARSON (gk).

Referee: Kurt AMS