No happy homecoming for Mariners Youth

Central Coast Mariners striker Bernie Ibini-Isei’s third goal in as many matches against Gold Coast United wasn’t enough to stop the visitors taking a 3-1 victory in a heated week 10 National Youth League encounter at Budgewoi this afternoon.

Central Coast Mariners striker Bernie Ibini-Isei-s third goal in as many matches against Gold Coast United wasn-t enough to stop the visitors taking a 3-1 victory in a heated week 10 National Youth League encounter at Budgewoi this afternoon.

The Young Mariners were outclassed in the first half before clawing their way back into the contest, only to see a late penalty from their nemesis Chris Harold seal victory.

With the sun shining on the Budgewoi turf for the first time this season both sides were content to conserve energy in the opening exchanges. It was a traditional midfield battle as the two teams looked to consolidate possession, and as result chances were few and far between.

Mariners head coach Tony Walmsley was typically forthright about the performance of his charges, but was pleased that there were some positives to come out of the match.

“I-m not too concerned with the results at the moment. When you are on a losing streak, performance is everything, and shouting and screaming isn-t the answer. The application just wasn-t there in the first half. We talked about it at halftime. The speed in transition, and the lack of support was costing us possession time after time.

“As a result we never really got into the game and you end up with Gold Coast controlling possession, and inevitably something gives. Collectively we were very disappointed with the first half. Having said that in the second half we showed some of the capability we-ve got,” said Walmsley.

“There is a lot of growth in this team. There are some issues with belief at the moment. We-ve been starting games well and playing great in the first half before taking our foot off the pedal. Today was the reverse of that where we began poorly and played better in the second half. It-s getting that mentality right to not only start the game well but see it through.”

Ibini-Isei had the first real opportunity of the game, but his half-chance came to nothing with the marksman unable to get his shot on target after turning his marker inside out. The warning shot seemed to shake the visitors from their almost comatose state, and from then on they dominated the first half.

Defender Adam Ormsby pulled off a spectacular challenge to thwart the visitors first real opportunity after some strong lead-up play from Ben Halloran. The next chance fell to a familiar face with Nik Mrdja who was gifted a set piece in fine field position. Unfortunately for the veteran striker he was unable to get direction on his shot and the kick sailed harmlessly wide.

Elliot Ronto made a probing run that split the compact Mariners defence, and ended only when Alex Mansueto brought him down in the box. Gold Coast captain Steven Lustica stepped up and coolly slotted the resulting penalty past Mariners- custodian David Bradasevic.

It was the catalyst for five minutes of madness from the Mariners who struggled to get a touch on the ball as Gold Coast played the game in their territory. It ended in the 27th minute when defender Ben Wearing nodded home a powerful header from a corner to give the visitors from the tourist strip a two-goal buffer.

The Mariners final chance of the half came on the half-hour mark with Adam Ormsby having an audacious shot from distance that was on target before Jerrad Tyson defused the situation.

It was not a first-half to remember for the home side, which time after time gave away possession and position with heavy touches, and some physical tackles. Trent Sainsbury tried to spark his team with some incisive runs from the back but his efforts were in vain as he took some heavy knocks, which resulted in him being replaced for the second half.

Tony Walmsley obviously told the players some home truths at halftime and the side responded immediately by taking the game to the Gold Coast. Fortune favours the brave, and the Central Coast side was rewarded for this positive approach with a goal to Ibini-Isei in the 49th minute.

Some strong lead-up play saw Ibini-Isei released with time and space to set himself up for a shot at goal. Gold Coast custodian Tyson blocked his first shot, but he proved that persistence pays off by following the ball and successfully navigated the mass of bodies to volley home.

The introduction of Sam Munro, Jimmy Oates and Nick Fitzgerald added some much needed energy to the side and the intensity from the remaining troops lifted noticeably. There were very promising signs for the Mariners, and indeed, the combination of Fitzgerald, Ibini-Isei and Mitchell Duke shows real potential.

Time and time again the three attacking players combined to ask some serious questions of a compact Gold Coast defence. Duke in particular was relishing the chance to sprint past former Manchester United defender John Curtis. The Mariners best chance of an equalizer fell to the feet of Duke, but the striker pushed his shot wide.

A final chance fell to Fitzgerald after a gem of a ball from Duke, but the bounce of the ball threw the midfielder off balance and he was unable to take advantage of the chance.

After being outplayed for the first quarter of the second half Gold Coast could-ve, and in all fairness should-ve killed off any chance of a Mariners fight back in the 77th minute. Ben Halloran who had been causing headaches all afternoon for the Mariners defence made a surging run to the edge of the penalty area before releasing a pin-point cross.

In one of those instances where it is harder to miss than to score, his support Mitch Cooper blasted the ball over the top of the bar with the goal at his mercy.

The Gold Coast thought they would rue the squandered chance, but in their quest for an equalizer, the Young Mariners final touch left them down.

In the final seconds of regular time Gold Coast United sealed the three points when referee Tim McGilchrist adjudged Mariners custodian Bradasevic to have brought down Halloran in the box, despite it appearing that initial contact was with the ball.

Inevitably it was Chris Harold who stepped up to take the penalty. The shot-stopper-s frustration was compounded when he was unable to prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net.

Fitzgerald was shown a straight red with mere seconds remaining in stoppage, ending the match on a sour note for the home side.

Despite the loss, there were many positive sides for the Young Mariners. The team is creating chances, and with a positive approach, a win isn-t too far away.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the National Youth League 2010/11 season will be against Sydney FC next Saturday, 27 November at Budgewoi Soccer Club. Kick-off is at 4:00pm.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ibini-Isei 49-)
Gold Coast United 3 (Lustica 22-(pen), Wearing 27-, Harold 90-(pen))

Central Coast Mariners: 20. David BRADASEVIC (gk), 2. Trent SAINSBURY, (5. Jimmy OATES 46-), 3. Jerry KALOURIS, (6. Sam MUNRO 46-), 4. Alex MANSUETO, 9. Bernie IBINI-ISEI, 10. Mitchell DUKE, 11. Mitchell MALLIA, 15. Adam ORMSBY, 17. Sam GALLAGHER, 18. Marc WARREN, 19. Nik MRDJA (8. Nick FITZGERALD 46-).

Subs not Used: 1. Nik MATIC (gk)

Yellow Cards: Mallia 28-, Ormsby 38-, Mansueto 70-, Munro 90-.
Red Cards: Fitzgerald 90+2-

Gold Coast United: 1. Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2.Joshua BRILLANTE, 4. Neko VUJEVICH, (14. Mitch COOPER 63-), 5. Ben WEARING, 6. John CURTIS, 7. Zac ANDERSON, 8. Steven LUSTICA (c), (3. Daniel BRAGG 60-), 9. Chris HAROLD, 11. Ben HALLORAN, 13. Elliot RONTO (10. Robert RUSSEL 55-), 15. JAMES BROWN.

Subs not Used: 20. Tim ANDERSON (gk)

Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None

Referee: Tim McGilchrist