Mariners youth watch three points slip away in Melbourne

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 12: Nicholas Fitzgarald (R) congratulates Brady Smith (C) of the Mariners after scoring his team's first goal during the round 14 National Youth League match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Melbourne Victory at Bluetongue Stadium on December 12, 2009 in Gosford, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brady Smith;Nicholas Fitzgarald

While a point was enough for the young Mariners to return to the too of the NYL ladder on goal difference, they would have felt they should have got more out of the match after dominating for long periods, and taking the lead in the 91st minute, only to give away an equaliser less than 60 seconds later.
?It?s important the boys learn they have to keep playing for the full 90 minutes, and we were instructing that to them while they were celebrating, so its disappointing to concede so soon after it looked as though we had snatched a winner,? said Mariners Head Coach Tony Walmsley.
?I thought we dominated for large parts of the first half but they came back into it, and we were fortunate enough to win the penalty and should have gone on and won the game.

?Overall it was a good performance and I?m happy we came away on a tough trip to get a point, but it?s disappointing when it looked as though all three could have been in the bag.
After a second half devoid of chances, Nikas profited from a questionable foul by Diogo Ferreira on Mitchell Mallia in the box, to slot the ball into the bottom right corner from the spot.
Then just seconds later, the Mariners? defence, still rejoicing from the goal, were caught napping as Norton received a long ball, took a touch and calmly swept the ball past an unsuspecting Matt Ryan in the Central Coast goal.            
Both sides could be excused for expecting the match to peter out before the stoppage-time drama hit. Indeed it was a match that had 0-0 written all over it from the outset.
Both Melbourne and the Central Coast pressed in the first half but couldn?t penetrate that last line with a final ball and were guilty of being caught offside time after time.
The Victory strikers in Nathan Elasi and Tedros Yabbio had their work cut out with twin towers Matthew Liddall and Adam Ormsby rock solid in the heart of the Mariner?s defence.
And it was the Central Coast that just shaded proceedings in the first half, Nick Fitzgerald forced a fine low save out of Sebastian Mattei before Shane Huke saw his unmarked header from six yards smash into the cross bar.
On the other hand, Melbourne couldn?t break the logjam in the middle and looked disjointed with key players out of the side, often passes missed their mark in a patchy first half.
It wasn?t until late in the half that Melbourne saw it best chance. Yabbio cut in from the left and produced a dipping shot from the edge of the box that almost caught out the keeper who could only just tip the fine effort over the bar.
It was more of the same in the second half with both sides trying in vain to assert their authority.
Elasi ran onto a nice little flick from substitute Matthew Demo after 70 minutes but could only fire his shot straight at the keeper and that marked one of only a few chances created.
Then with stoppage time approaching the drama unfolded.
The Mariners scored the penalty when there appeared to be little contact in the foul and the Victory would probably feel justice was served when they equalised moments later.
?It was a very hot day and the wind played its part too but the boys are used to that, and while we didn?t get a win today, there is certainly a lot we can take with us into what is a very important home game against Newcastle next weekend.
?They beat us 4-1 only two weeks ago so we have a point to prove, and we have to win if we want to get that minor premiership,? Walmsley said.

Central Coast Mariners:
20. Mathew RYAN (GK), 3. Jerry KALOURIS, 4. Matthew LIDDALL, 8. Nick FITZGERALD, 9. Gavin FORBES (2. Mitchell DUKE 60?), 10. Panny NIKAS (C), 12. Shane HUKE, 14. Brady SMITH (7. Brendan GRIFFIN 60?), 15. Adam ORMSBY, 17. Matthew LEWIS (11. Mitchell MALLIA 60?), 18. Bernie IBINI-ISEI
Subs not used: 1. Nik MATIC (GK)
Yellow Cards: Smith 21?, Fitzgerald 45?, Huke 82?
Red Cards: None
Goals: Nikas 90? (pen)
Melbourne Victory: 1. Sebastian MATTEI (GK) (C), 2. Peter FRANJIC, 3. Brad NORTON, 5. Diogo FERRERIA, 6. Luke PILKINGTON, 7. David STIRTON 15. Luke O?DEA 53?), 8. Craig SWEENEY, 10. Nathan ELASI, 11. Antonio LA VERDE, 12. Tedros YABIO (9. Matthew DEMO 53?), 16. Simon TOLLI (14. James JEGGO 63?).
Subs not Used: 20. Rani DOWISHA (GK)
Yellow Cards: Sweeney 90+1?
Red Cards: None
Goals: Norton 91?

*By Glen Lauder and James Ranson, Sportal