National Youth League - 2009/2010 - Season 2

One, Two, in Three
By Chris Dunkerley

2009/2010 National Youth League - Championship Semi Final (1v4)
4pm, Saturday 13 March, 2010
at Pluim Park, Lisarow

Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Panni Nikas 30'pen)
lost to
Gold Coast United FC 3
(Ben Wearing 1’, Ben Halloran 3’, Chris Harold 83')

(Gold Coast goal mouth action - Photo Chris Dunkerley for BOTN)

Gold Coast came from fourth place to jump Premiers Central Coast Mariners into the Championship Final with a 3-1 win; that started with 2 goals within 3 minutes. The flat and stunned young Mariners never really recovered despite the rest of the game being much more even. The Gold Coast now wait for their opponents in Melbourne next Saturday to arise from the other semi in Perth between Glory and Adelaide.

It was a horror start that few teams can come back from, albeit there is time, as it is the mental lift needed that is the hardest. As the game was about to start the heavens opened and toungue-in-cheek perhaps the Gold Coast coming from a more tropical climate may have been more able to focus. Rather I think is it a symptom of the Mariners defensive lethargy all season, especially without overage players and with second-rank players called in due to injury.

You have to give it to the Gold Coast though - from the kickoff winning a corner on the left, then Tahj Minniecon picking out an umarked, unchallenged Ben Wearing who steered the ball past Mariners 'keeper Mattew Ryan - all within the first minute.

Still reeling, the young Mariners copped a second, 3 minutes in, when Ben Halloran's weaving run past three defenders opened up space for a shot and an apparent deflection saw the ball on its way into the net past Ryan.

The Mariners were having trouble with the speed, guile, and aggression of experienced Gold Coast pair, Tahj Minniecon and James Brown, but slowly found their feet; however Bernie Ibini-Isei looked a lone figure upfront.

What joy that came, was from the acceleration of Mitchell Mallia past his defender down the left but in the 25th minute the speedster had a chance of his own. Matthew Lewis, who has manfully trying to lift the possession rate of the home side, sent Panni Nikas away down the right. Nikas managed to send the ball inside to Mitchell Mallia. Mallia got an awkward bounce and his attempted half-volley went wide on the left.

Hope returned to the home fans, who were starting to dry out, in the 30th minute. Panni Nikas was slipped the ball by Mallia but was quickly closed down. He attempted to turn and slip the ball past his defender Zac Anderson. Anderson made a clumsy move to cover and Nikas went down under his contact. Gold Coast custodian Jerrad Tyson picked the right way and got down to the ball, but it squeezed under his on the damp turf. 1-2

The Mariners lifted with the goal - Liddall almost got a header on target from a corner, and then Lewis headed weakly at the 'keeper just before the break.

The second half was an equally matched midfield battle, though it became a little testy as the referee started to lose discipline and became erratic in what he picked up and didn't. Several players were lucky not to pick up a yellow, particulary Gold Coast's James Brown and Steven Topalovic (both of whom would have incurred an early shower if so).

Brady Smith was brought down only a few minutes into the half, in a last-man situation, but the resultant free-kick was sent over the crossbar by Mallia.

Minniecon continued to cause problems for the home side, with some chances, but really they were content to frustrate. Mariners substitute Mitchell Duke made a good run on the right shortly after coming on and confronted he turned his man and shot, alas a little wide.

Mallie had a snap shot palmed wide on the left, and then Ibini-Isei hit one on target thet the 'keeper fumbled but there was no-one following up.

Tahj Minniecon made room down the right, and crossed to Chris Harold free in midfield and surged forward before clipping the ball deftly over Mariners’ 'keeper Ryan. 1-3 and really 'game over', in the 83rd minute.

Nikas did make a run down the left but the cross was taken off the head of Duke by the Gold Coast 'keeper. Last minute fears for the locals when Gold Coast rattled to right upright with a free-kick.

Despite battling for most of the game, and not getting the 'rub of the green' from the referee, the best team won on the day, and the Premiers had to be content with that appellation which was high reward for a good season of progress. The Gold Coast will be competitive in the Final but may not have the depth of quality of either Glory or the Reds. The final will be played at 3pm at Docklands, Melbourne on the afternoon of the HAL Grand Final.

"My feelings are of disappointment that the players won’t get to experience the big game next week after a stellar season,” said Mariners NYL head coach Tony Walmsley. My thoughts about the game were that we were very much in it, but you can’t give a team like the Gold Coast a two goal start and expect to win many games against them. At 2-1 we felt if we nicked a second goal we could’ve gone on with it. The longer the game went on we felt they were feeling stressed when we were in possession." "We started slowly. It was a ridiculous scenario, we should’ve cleared our lines better for both of those goals. Aside from that we were outmuscled in the first fifteen minutes and it took us a while to get to grips with that tempo,” Walmsley added.

Gold Coast NYL head coach, Mike Mulvey, said he couldn’t be prouder of his young troops. "All season they have worked hard and tried to play the attacking football we’ve asked of them – I’m really proud of them," Mulvey said. "We started well, which we haven’t always done in recent times, and our players have learned a lot today. They stood up in a difficult and important game, against a good side, and there were some outstanding individual performances. When everyone pulls together like they did today something special can happen and we fully deserved our win".

2009/2010 National Youth League - Championship Semi Final (1v4)
4pm, Saturday 13 March, 2010
at Pluim Park, Lisarow

Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Panni Nikas 30'pen)
lost to
Gold Coast United FC 3
(Ben Wearing 1’, Ben Halloran 3’, Chris Harold 83')

    Crowd: about 500


    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing: 1. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Scott MCGLINEY (6. Mitchell DUKE +56’), 3. Jerry KALOURIS, 4. Matthew LIDDALL, 8. Nick FITZGERALD (9. Gavin FORBES +69’), 10. Panny NIKAS, (c) 11. Mitchell MALLIA, 14. Brady SMITH, 15. Adam ORMSBY (12. David VRANKOVIC +89’), 17. Matthew LEWIS, 18. Bernie IBINI-ISEI

    Substitutes not used: 20. Nik MATIC (rgk)

    Coach: Tony Walmsley

    Yellow Cards: Matthew Liddall 25’, Scott McGliney 40’, Brady Smith 72’, Matthew Mallia 90'+3
    Red Cards: Nil

    Gold Coast United FC :
    Player listing: 1. Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2. Steven TOPALOVIC, 3. James BROWN, 5. Ben WEARING, 7. Zac ANDERSON (4. Callum HARE +79’), 8. Steven LUSTICA (c), 9. Chris HAROLD (15. Rueben WAY +85’), 10. Koh SATAKE, 11. Ben HALLORAN (6. Mitchell BEVAN +89’), 12. Tahj MINNIECON, 14. Josh BRILLANTE

    Substitutes not used: 20. Tim ANDERSON (rgk)

    Coach: Mike Mulvey

    Yellow Cards: James Brown 7’, Steven Topalovic 33’, Zach Anderson 48’, Ben Halloran 69’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Stuart Wolfe 5/10 (very inconsistent with rulings and cards/non cards)
    Assistant referees: Stpehen Lucas, Ryan Gallagher; Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones; Referee 'coach': John Parker

    BOTN players to watch:
    CCM: Mitchell Mallia, Matt Lewis, Panni Nikas; GCU: James Brown, Tahj Minniecon, Chris Harold

    Game rating: 6/10

    Pitch rating: 7/10

    Match Report and ratings: Chris Dunkerley

Photo gallery: (All photos Chris Dunkerley for BOTN)

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. FFA has not this season accredited any Photographers for BOTN, so any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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