‘Sloppy start’ costs Mariners Academy says Vilela after APIA defeat

Central Coast Mariners Academy were beaten 3-1 by APIA Leichhardt on Sunday afternoon in the 2024 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition.

By Justin Davies, Football NSW

Mariners NPL First Grade Head Coach Lucas Vilela said his side ‘started sloppy’ and APIA ‘did well in possession’ to take a commanding early lead which Mariners couldn’t recover from.

The hosts were 3-0 up after just 22 minutes with goals from Jordan Segreto, Ben Gibson and Michael Kouta, before Luka Smyth pulled one back from the spot on 68 minutes.

After a bright start, APIA got their reward in the 13th minute, Segreto unfurled a long range strike which flew into the top corner for 1-0, an early goal of the season contender from the former Mariners Academy man.

APIA made 2-0 in the 18th minute, Gibson slotting home from close range following a neat Edward Caspers pass and on 22 minutes, another well worked move from the hosts found Kouta at the far post to tap home and make it 3-0.

The Young Mariners tried to shake off their early deficit with chances of their own. Cher Deng headed over then Lucas Scicluna poked a shot wide.

In the second half, Dylan Peraic-Cullen made a fantastic save to deny Gibson a second and APIA a fourth, whilst Mariners continued to push for a route back into the game at the other end.

Matej Busek forced a save from APIA Leichhardt keeper Anthony Bouzanis before the Mariners did get on the scoresheet through Smyth.

Donatien Niyonkuru was fouled in the box and Smyth confidently stepped up and slotted home to make it 3-1.

Scicluna came close to pulling another back on 84 minutes, but his free kick went over the bar.

APIA boss Franco Parisi was happy with the win for his side, but also credited Vilela’s Mariners, stating:

“I was very happy with how we started the game, the first 30 minutes was impressive.

“The Mariners responded and played well but we’ll take the three points.”

While Vilela reflected on the loss and noted some positives from the game.

“We started sloppy and wasn’t our best start.

“APIA did well in possession and made it 3-0 early in the game.

“I think we got better late in the first half and the second half, scoring a goal.

“I think a draw would’ve been fair but good on APIA,” Vilela said.

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Dylan Peraic-Cullen (GK), 2. Michael Paragalli, 3. Cher Deng, 7. Matej Busek (38. Prayaag Thapa ’74), 8. Lucas Scicluna, 10. Luka Smyth, 11. Donatien Niyonkuru, 15. Amponsah Antwi (23. Arthur De Lima ’45), 27. Taye Hadley (13. Yani Nassis ’61), 28. Jordan Small (18. Adil Toska ’45), 33. Alexander Gountounas

Unused subs: 14. Angus Reid, 40. Daniel Vickers (GK)

Yellow cards: Smyth

Red cards: N/A