BRAD McDonald’s 70th minute goal wasn’t enough for Central Coast Mariners Youth to claim victory in Saturday’s National Youth League clash with Perth Glory.
Gallery above (c) John Dewberry / Central Coast Mariners
The quality of Adrian Zahra was on display as the 22-year-old winger led Perth Glory to an unexpected 3-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in round 16 of the National Youth League played in Tuggerah on Saturday.
Zahra scored a goal and had a hand in another as Perth Glory bounced back from a 7-0 thumping at the hands of Melbourne Victory to register the win.
The former Melbourne Heart man chipped replacement goalkeeper Daniel Sadaka in the second half after he had laid on the final pass for Slobodan Vulin to open the scoring in the first.
Equal top coming into the match, the Mariners pulled one back in the second half via Brad McDonald but Perth’s late goal iced an impressive performance against a profligate Mariners outfit.
The Glory flew out of the gates, belying their seventh spot on the table, exerting early pressure as Zahra caused problems on the left side of the Central Coast defence.
Zahra setup Vulin’s eighth-minute goal before delivering the final ball eight minutes later, only to see Matthew Davies hit the post as Perth looked certain to score a second.
John McLafferty’s side awoke from their early slumber to pour on the pressure from the 15th-minute mark with their first good chance on goal coming via Daniel Bragg, who shot wide.
Following that attempt was a period of sustained pressure all the way to the interval as the Mariners dominated possession but failed to gain a breakthrough.
Bragg had multiple attempts on goal and McDonald, along with Nick Fitzgerald, troubled Perth’s goal.
Glory shot-stopper Jordan Franken was kept busy and had to pull out a top draw save to keep out Anthony Caceres’ rifled shot on 25 minutes.
Such was the Mariners’ dominance the visitors only had a single good chance three minutes before half-time following a half-hour of solid defending.
Gareth Naven’s side started the second half with intent and Zahra’s goal doubled their lead.
Following that the two sides traded attempts on goal but lacked quality in their finishing until McDonald drilled a shot past Franken in the 70th minute.
The Mariners could have equalised from several attempts late on.
Perth sealed the win in the 84th minute via striker Ndumba Makeche who finished at the second attempt after Sadaka parried his initial shot from close range.
Zambian-born Makeche could have had a double moments later but blasted a penalty attempt wide after he was fouled in the area.
Central Coast Mariners Youth 1 (Brad McDonald 70-)
Perth Glory Youth 3 (Slobodan Vulin 5-, Adrian Zahra 54-, Ndumba Makeche 84-)
Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence, Tuggerah
Central Coast Mariners Youth: 1. David Bradasevic (Gk) (20. Daniel Sadaka (Gk) 46-) 2. Nikola Stanojevic (c), 3. Michael Neill (14. Jordan Crighton 57-) 5. Hayden Morton, 6. Daniel Bragg (8. Dillon Vorster 57-) 7. Adam Jenner, 9. Nick Fitzgerald, 12. Patrick Dixon (16. Aaron Peterson 57-) 13. Brent Griffiths, 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres
Yellow cards: Stanojevic, Griffiths
Red cards: Nil
Perth Glory Youth: 1. Jordan Franken (Gk), 2. Matthew Davies, 3. Ryan Lowrey, 4. Storm Roux, 5. Riley Woodcock (c), 6. Jacob Collard (14. Kieran Colwell 60- – 6 Jacob Collard 83-) 7. Adrian Zahra, 8. Lawrence Shuruma, 9. Ndumba Makeche 10. Slobodan Vulin (12. Borbor Sam 60-) 11. Andrew Higgins (13. Moses Kalau 60-)
Yellow cards: Colwell
Red cards: Nil