Mariners Youth sink Sydney with second half surge

Sydney FC’s National Youth League team has suffered its first stumble of the 2009/10 season, going down 3-1 on Saturday afternoon in a high-quality clash with the Central Coast Mariners.

Sydney FC-s National Youth League team has suffered its first stumble of the 2009/10 season, going down 3-1 on Saturday afternoon in a high-quality clash with the Central Coast Mariners.

The previously undefeated competition leaders had the better of the first half but were overrun in the second stanza by the fast-finishing Mariners.

“It-s disappointing to lose but it-s a good learning experience for the boys,” said Sydney Coach, Steve O-Connor after the match. “They got the jump on us at the start of the second half but I thought we adjusted well to their style, and in the end we were unlucky not to get back in the game.”

Central Coast brought a strong side to a wet Seymour Shaw Park, fielding four over age players in a bid to get their first win of the National Youth League season but the Junior Sky Blues weren-t over-awed and quickly had the lead thanks to a great attacking move in just the 2nd minute of play.

Hussein Akil used his pace up the right before cutting the ball back nicely inside. Joel Chianese then showed beautiful control to create space for himself in the box and fired home a clinical finish to give his side the early advantage.

The opening goal added instant intensity to the clash and the Central Coast clambered for a quick reply. In the 8th minute a long range shot required close attention from Sydney keeper, Nenad Vekic and the visitors continued to pressure the young Sky Blue defence in search of an equaliser.

The league leaders showed why they have started the season with three clean sheets, however, weathering the brief storm with relative ease and it wasn-t long before they themselves were back on the attack.

Sydney-s midfield was dictating terms in the middle of the park and the hosts had two great chances to extend their lead approaching the thirty minute mark. First Kerim Bulut dazzled the defence before laying off for Akil on the edge of the area. He couldn-t get a clean strike on the ball, however, and neither could Adam Casey two minute later when the junior Sky Blues again carved open the Mariners at the back.

It wasn-t all going Sydney-s way. Experienced defender, Ahmed Elrich showed no fear of getting forward and proved an ever-present threat for the visitors raiding down the right. Central Coast continued to search for a way back into the game and late in the half they found one – Lachlan Cahill receiving the ball in space and firing off a screamer from distance that gave Vekic no chance and brought the teams back on level terms.

At the start of the second half the Mariners went to their bench with Gavin Forbes and Mitchell Mallia entering the fray. It proved an inspired move. Two minutes after the resumption Vekic was forced to punch away a wicked Bradley Porter cross – the ball didn-t clear the area however and Mallia blasted it into the back of the net with his first touch of the match.

Four minutes later the Mariners made it three. Elrich delivered a looping centre for his skipper, Panagiotis Nikas who continued the striking master class and gave his side an unlikely two goal advantage.

Central Coast continued the onslaught and Sydney-s young keeper had to be at his athletic best to deny Nikas a second soon after. Coach, Steve O-Connor looked to his own bench for inspiration and the hosts slowly began to work their way back into the battle. With five minutes remaining a quickly taken free kick sent Bulut on his way and the competition-s leading scorer almost dragged one back, shaking the woodwork from the edge of the Mariners- penalty area.

That was as close as the Junior Sky Blues came though and when the full time whistle sounded soon after they had fallen to their first defeat of the season.

Sydney FC-s young guns will look to bounce back when they travel South to face the Melbourne Victory next Saturday. Before that, Sydney-s Hyundai A-League side and Westfield W-League team will look to avenge the Youth League loss when they host the Mariners at the Sydney Football Stadium in two days time on the Holiday Monday.

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Match Detail

Sydney FC 1 (Chianese 2′)
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Cahill 42′, Mallia 47′, Nikas 51′)

Sydney FC: 1. Nenad VEKIC (gk) (20. Mark PULLMAN (gk) 75-), 2. Steven TIBBETTS (c), 3. Mitchell SPEER (17. Luke AUSTIN 58-), 4. Adam CASEY (OA) (15. Raymond MILLER 53-), 5. Antony GOLEC, 8. Hussein AKIL (7. Dimitri PETRATOS 56-), 9. Kerim BULUT, 10. Zach CAIRNCROSS, 11. Iain RAMSAY, 13. Joel CHIANESE, 14. Tim MCGOWAN.

Substitutes Not Used: nil.

Yellow Cards: 3. Mitchell SPEER 9-, 10. Zach CAIRNCROSS 18-, 14. Tim MCGOWAN 61-.
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: 13. Joel CHIANESE 2-.

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Matthew CROWELL (OA), 3. Bradley PORTER (OA), 5. Luka DUKIC, 7. Matthew LEWIS, 8. Nicholas FITZGERALD (9. Gavin FORBES 45-), 10. Panagiotis NIKAS (c) (6. Emmanuel GIANNAROS 58-), 12. Ahmad ELRICH (OA), 14. Bradley SMITH (11. Mitchell MALLIA 45-), 15. Adam ORMSBY, 17. Lachlan CAHILL (OA).

Substitutes Not Used: 20. Nikodin MATIC (gk).

Yellow Cards: nil.
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: 17. Lachlan CAHILL 42-, 11. Mitchell MALLIA 47-, 10. Panagiotis NIKAS 51-.

Referee: Ryan Shepheard (at Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda)