Mariners Youth aiming to end season on high

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team will take on the Australian Institute of Sport this Saturday afternoon in their final match of the 2010/11 season, knowing victory would seal second spot on the ladder.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team will take on the Australian Institute of Sport this Saturday afternoon in their final match of the 2010/11 season, knowing victory would seal second spot on the ladder.

A spirited late-season charge for a second successive premiership was taken out of their hands last weekend when Gold Coast United wrapped up the title, but despite this, a week-s break has energised the Young Mariners and they are determined to end their 2010/11 campaign in the best possible fashion.

When the dust settles on the Mariners- third campaign in the National Youth League after full-time on Saturday afternoon, the team can look back and be proud of their late-season revival.

A series of injuries and a run of unlucky results meant that the Mariners began the New Year in a lowly position, but the side never lost focus, or confidence in their ability.

“Losing the experience of Brady Smith and Young Socceroo Nikola Stanojevic to season ending injuries so early certainly impacted on early season results and stretched the depth of the squad before it was ready,” said Mariners Head Coach Tony Walmsley.

Since January the side has won six out of seven matches, netting twenty-one goals and conceding just seven. Statistics like this ensured a meteoric rise up the table, and the football played has been truly outstanding.

“I like my players and teams to entertain and we have certainly done that with improving performances over the season. One of our key challenges was to replace the goal-scoring exploits of Panny Nikas and with Bernie Ibini Isei and Mitchell Duke we have two players leading the golden boot race and both deserving of their recent first team exposure,” said Walmsley.

One of the draw-s little quirks is that four of the last seven matches have been played at Pluim Park, meaning that the Central Coast fans have been able to enjoy the performances of the team first hand. Clearly the players themselves relished playing at home, with all four matches going in favour of the Young Mariners.

“It-s no secret that the make up of our squad has a limited Central Coast presence, but the boys love training and playing on the Coast and have taken to Pluim Park very well.

“Players like (Brendan) Griffin and (Sam) Munro moved to the Coast this season while (Jimmy) Oates and (Nick) Fitzgerald train full-time (with the Hyundai A-League squad) and have the true heart and spirit required to represent the Mariners,” said Walmsley.

Despite scoring goals with remarkable potency in the last month, the Young Mariners proved in their last outing that they possess a grit and determination that helped them to a tough 1-nil victory over the Brisbane Roar.

Their next opponent has been the big improver of this season-s competition. The Australian Institute of Sport boasts the youngest squad of any in the National Youth League, and at times in their inaugural season struggled to match it physically with the much older squads.

No such problem for the lads from Canberra this time around. They currently sit in fifth sport on the table with 29 points, and their own eyes focused on second spot. Underlining their strength is the fact they have notched 41 goals this season, equal with the Mariners, and the most in the league.

In their two matches to date this campaign, honours are even at one-all. The AIS handed the Young Mariners a 2-defeat at Budgewoi earlier this season, before the Central Coast side repaid the favour with interest in a 3-nil victory at Pluim Park last month.

“The season ends this week but the work never stops. We need to prepare for next season in terms of recruitment and retention if we are to maintain the level of progress experienced in the last two seasons.

“Arnie has been first class in his management of the club and his investment in youth demands we continue to drive and develop a youth policy that continues to provide a genuine pathway to the first team,” said Walmsley.

Clearly rather than looking back, the Young Mariners are looking forward.

Saturday-s clash with the AIS will be the 6th competitive clash between the two clubs.

The Central Coast Mariners will conclude their 2010/11 National Youth League campaign this Saturday, 26 February, when they take on the Australian Institute of Sport at the AIS Athletics Track, Canberra. Kick-off is at 2:00pm AEDT.

Previous Meetings

Saturday, 10 Oct 2009 – Central Coast Mariners 2, AIS 2, Seymour Shaw Park
Saturday, 21 Nov 2009 – Central Coast Mariners 0, AIS 0 Athletics Track
Saturday, 9 Jan 2010 – Central Coast Mariners 2, AIS 0, Bluetongue Stadium
Saturday, 2 Oct 2010 – Central Coast Mariners 0, AIS 2, Budgewoi Soccer Club
Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011 – Central Coast Mariners 3, AIS 0, Pluim Park, Lisarow

Central Coast Mariners squad: David BRADASEVIC (gk), Nik MATIC (gk), Sam MUNRO, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Mitchell DUKE, Max GLANVILLE, Sam GALLAGHER, Zac FREEBURN, Alex MANSUETO, Brendan GRIFFIN, Mitchell MALLIA, Jimmy OATES, Nick FITZGERALD, Nathan JAGELMAN, Jerry KALOURIS.