GC reel in Mariners

Gold Coast needed a second half goal from replacement Elliot Ronto to keep its unbeaten record intact in the National Youth League competition on Saturday.

Gold Coast needed a second half goal from replacement Elliot Ronto to keep its unbeaten record intact in the National Youth League competition on Saturday.

Ronto-s opportunistic close range strike in the 73rd minute secured Gold Coast a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the Central Coast Mariners at Budgewoi Soccer Club on the Central Coast.

Gold Coast went into the match confident after winning three from three so far this campaign, while the Mariners were chasing only their second victory.

The Mariners looked on course for a much needed victory after hitting the front courtesy of a well-taken goal from Bernie Ibini-Isei in first half injury time.

But the visitors were always well in the match. Ronto-s equaliser was the first real chance of a tight second period.

Defence dominated much of the second half after both teams adopted an open game plan in the first period.

Mitchell Duke had a great chance to put the Mariners in front in the ninth minute but blazed wide, while Koh Satake should have done better with a close-range header for Gold Coast in the 19th minute.

It was the Mariners who went to the break in a great frame of mind after Young Socceroo Mustafa Amini laid on the opening goal for Ibini-Isei, his second goal of the season.

After Ronto-s equaliser the Mariners had two good chances to secure the three points.

Central defender Chris Doig headed straight at the goalkeeper from a corner with five minutes to play before Mitchell Mallia did the same in the 87th minute.

Central Coast Mariners: 1 (Ibini-Isei 45) Gold Coast United: 1 (Ronto 73)