The Central Coast Mariners Youth have come from behind to draw 2-2 with the Newcastle Jets Youth on Saturday morning in Round 3 of the Foxtel National Youth League.
Goals to Jacob Poscoliero and substitute Mortaza Safdari were enough to cancel out strikes to Newcastle’s Radavan Pavicevic and Labinot Haliti at the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence.
It was an even first half between the Central Coast Mariners Youth and Newcastle Jets Youth with the away team opening the scoring in the 14th minute through Pavicevic.
The lead wouldn’t last long though thanks to Poscoliero who made his first appearance for the Mariners since falling to injury in Hyundai A-League round two against Sydney FC. Brenton Fox whipped the ball in from a set piece to find the head of Poscoliero who capitalised for the equaliser.
On the half an hour mark Haliti found himself with the ball at his feet and doubled the Jets’ tally with a strike from just inside the area.
The away side had a prime chance to put the game to bed in the 66th minute but Adam Pearce stood tall to deny the one-on-one opportunity with an amazing save.
Next it was the Mariners who looked to grab the game by the scruff of the neck when Duncan Stewart looked to have scored but the Jets’ keeper did just enough to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Ben Cahn substituted Safdari onto the pitch in the 57th minute who proved to be a game changer and delivered the moment that counted in the 82nd minute. The attacker fired a shot from outside the area that flew into the bottom corner and sensationally confirmed a point for the Yellow & Navy.
Cahn is happy with how his side is progressing and credited the Mariners’ character for taking control in the second half.
“It was a hot day here which proved to be demanding for the players,” Cahn said. “We didn’t execute our game plan very well in the first half and we allowed them to control it.
“We suffered and went into the break 2-1 down but in the second half we were very good, we controlled the game, we were much more positive and some players stood up.
“I think we controlled enough of the second half to warrant a win but whilst we were chasing the game we left a lot of space and Newcastle would say they equally had enough opportunities to win.
“We’ve got a really good group of boys. There are lots of new faces that are starting to come together but it would be nice to see that develop into three points.
“The club have been very cautious managing Poscoliero’s injury but today he passed with flying colours. Scored a goal, defended well and was a really good leader so that’s a very good sign.
“Safdari came on off the bench and changed the game for us, not only did he score the goal for us but he gave us another dimension to our attacking play and ultimately got his reward.
“Adam Pearce has been brilliant this season, he’s probably been our best player and we owe him the opportunity to keep a clean sheet, that’s the reward he deserves for what he’s been putting in but he’ll get there,” Cahn said.
Central Coast Mariners Youth: 1.Adam Pearce (gk), 2.Shelford Dais, 5.Jacob Poscoliero (14.Zac Sfiligoi 72’), 25.James Enticknap, 9.Brenton Fox, 8.Thomas Lyons, 4.Reece Papadimitrios, 16.Gianni Stesness (12.Mortaza Safdari, 57’), 10. Duncan Stewart, 7.Lachlan Wales (21.Peter Kekeris 74’), 18.Steve Whyte (c)
Newcastle Jets Youth: 1. Dominic Fox (Gk), 2. Rhyan Smith (12. Patrick Langois 65’), 3. Ryan Ensor (C), 4. Caio De Godoy, 5. Thomas Waller, 6. Angus Thurgate, 7. Leroy Jennings, 8. Mitch Cooper, 9. Kristian Brymora, 10. Labinot Haliti (15. Antonee Burke 57’), 11. Radovan Pavicevic