Young Mariners see off Roar

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team has consolidated second spot on the ladder after a 1-0 victory over the Brisbane Roar in tough conditions at Pluim Park this afternoon. A lone Nick Fitzgerald strike in pouring rain was enough to seal the points in the final home match of the campaign.

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team has consolidated second spot on the ladder after a 1-0 victory over the Brisbane Roar in tough conditions at Pluim Park this afternoon. A lone Nick Fitzgerald strike in pouring rain was enough to seal the points in the final home match of the campaign.

After having several players called up for Hyundai A-League duty, and heavy playing schedule in recent weeks Tony Walmsley was forced to make several personnel changes. Included in the squad Hyundai A-League squad members Rostyn Griffiths, Chris Doig, Matthew Lewis, Sam Gallagher and Michael Baird.

There was drama for the visitors as well with Jacob McLean sustaining an injury during the warm-up leaving the visitors short on troops.

Mariners head coach Tony Walmsley was pleased that his side was able to grind out a result, but concedes the conditions provided plenty of challenges.

“The result was good but we have played better this season. Although we never really looked in trouble throughout the match the conditions certainly didn-t help. The pitch was a little bumpy, and with the rain for 90 minutes it made for tricky conditions.

“We were not as free flowing as we have been, but still a solid performance.

“Full Credit to Brisbane they travelled down with a young side and really took the game to us today. We could-ve scored more in the first half as we had some really good chances, but in the second half they dug in really well.

“At times they enjoyed territorial advantage over us as well, and made us a little uncomfortable. In those type of games you just have to be able to grind it out, and we managed to do that this afternoon,” said Walmsley.

A crowded January that has seen the side play several midweek games meant that energy levels of the players are starting to be stretched.

“Looking around the energy levels were low. Some players were struggling to get forward and back in transition and that meant it made the game open tactically, and gave Brisbane more of a foothold in the game than we would-ve liked. In heavy conditions you expect that some players will fatigue earlier than others,” said Walmsley.

A steady drizzle softened the Pluim Park surface shortly before kick-off, cooling the temperature significantly. The Young Mariners relished the cooler conditions and immediately set about taking the game to the Brisbane Roar.

Still on cloud nine after a memorable Hyundai A-League debut on Wednesday night, Mitchell Duke didn-t take long to fire off the first warning shot of the afternoon. An intelligent switch from Griffiths found Duke patiently sitting on the back-post. Unfortunately for the striker he was unable to steer his shot pass Brisbane custodian Matthew Acton.

The Young Mariners next foray into the visitor-s territory saw appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Stephen Lucas. Captain Sam Munro played a defence-splitting ball through midfield that found a flying Michael Baird whose run was quickly halted by a committed challenge from Brisbane.

The club-s most recent acquisition had a chance to nab the opener in the 9th minute with a powerful header being well saved by Acton. Sam Gallagher released Duke who continued the movement by crossing to Baird.

Full of confidence after netting a goal in the stifling conditions against Sydney FC last start Jimmy Oates showed the maturity that has evolved into his game, combining for a lovely one-two passing movement with Nick Fitzgerald that saw the Young Mariners put the ball into the back of the net – albeit from an offside position. A scramble of bodies in the box saw Fitzgerald and Munro pull the trigger before Baird tapped the ball in after straying offside.

The Young Mariners have demonstrated plenty of defensive steel in recent weeks, and it was on display again today. Not for the first time this season Mariners custodian David Bradasevic had to wait over a quarter of an hour for his first touch of the afternoon. It came from a free kick from Joshua Groenewald, and the young ‘keeper snuffled it with ease.

While the Young Mariners were dominating position and possession, and were creating plenty of chances, Brisbane captain Daniel Bowles pulled off one of the tackles of the match to deny Baird.

It seemed that the Queenslanders would inevitably fatigue under the immense pressure the Mariners were putting on them, and Nick Fitzgerald duly obliged, netting the opener in the 35th minute. A cross from Baird found Duke who calmly teed up Fitzgerald, and the midfielder drove the ball home with a powerful strike.

The final chance of the half came again from Baird, who arguably had the bulk of the scoring chances. After stealing the ball on the halfway line the 28-year-old showed a clean pair of heels to break away from a converging Brisbane defence. Brisbane ‘keeper Acton read the situation well, holding his ground to deny Baird.

A halftime downpour that never really lifted in the second half made the pitch heavy for the players, and had a noticeable affect on the tempo of the game.

Not content with a one-goal buffer, Duke went within inches of doubling the lead mere seconds after the resumption of play.

From that point though, chances were few and far between for the home side. Matthew Acton kept Brisbane in the match with three outstanding saves.

The first came when the impressive Oates struck a powerful volley from distance, and the keeper managed to steer the ball away from the goalmouth.

However it was the second save that was outstanding for its sheer athleticism. Brendan Griffin who had a strong match shot from the edge of the area in the 53rd minute, and at full stretch Acton was able to get his fingertips to the ball.

The ‘keepers efforts lifted the spirits of his team, and they did create a few nervous moments for the Young Mariners late in the match.

On one occasion Bradasevic had to make a brave save by diving on a loose ball to deny a flying Josh Groenewald.

The Young Mariners created a few more chances in the final stages of the match, but Max Glanville, Mitchell Mallia, and Fitzgerald were unable to trouble Acton.

In the end the Mariners had to settle for a tough one-goal victory, and can now enjoy a week-s break before travelling down to Canberra to play the Australian Institute of Sport.

“Anything can happen, and we still have a lot to play for,” said Walmsley.

The Central Coast Mariners final match of the National Youth League 2010/11 season will be against the Australian Institute of Sport on Saturday, 26 February at the AIS Athletics Field, Canberra. Kick-off is at 2:00pm AEDT.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Fitzgerald 35′)
Brisbane Roar 0

Central Coast Mariners: 20. David BRADASEVIC (gk), 5. Jimmy OATES, 6. Sam MUNRO (C), (11. Mitchell MALLIA 57-), 7. Brendan GRIFFIN (14. Zac FREEBURN 60-), 8. Nick FITZGERALD, 10. Mitchell DUKE (2. Max GLANVILLE 60-), 12. Matt LEWIS, 16. Michael BAIRD, 17. Sam GALLAGHER, 18. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 19. Chris DOIG.

Subs not Used: 1. Nik MATIC (gk).

Yellow Cards: Munro 23-, Lewis 33-, Mallia 88-
Red Cards: None

Brisbane Roar: 1. Matthew ACTON (gk), 2. Liam McCORMICK (11. Brandon BORRELLA 46-), 3. Tremayne SADLER (16. Scott COULSON 31-), 4. Matthew BYRNE, 5. Daniel BOWLES (c), 6. Joshua GROENEWALD, 8. James DONACHIE, 9. Matthew THURTELL, 12. Kenneth DOUGALL, 13. Jack BOXELL, 14. Ross ARCHIBALD.

Subs not Used: 20. James ECCLES (gk)

Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None

Referee: Stephen LUCAS