GCU Youth move into final

Fourth-placed Gold Coast United is through to the National Youth League grand final after an early blitz set up its 3-1 win over minor premiers the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Fourth-placed Gold Coast United is through to the National Youth League grand final after an early blitz set up its 3-1 win over minor premiers the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Gold Coast takes on the winner of Sunday-s semi-final between Perth and Adelaide in next weekend-s grand final.

The heavens opened as the teams walked onto the field at Pluim Park, Lisarow, on Saturday afternoon. But the rain didn-t distract the Gold Coast players, who just scraped into the finals, from making the most of their opportunity.

United took full advantage of a Koh Satake corner in the opening minute, with defender Ben Wearing heading home the neatly taken kick to open the visitors- account.

It got worse for the Mariners, whose defence had no answers in the opening minutes. The visitors made it two goals from as many attempts, when Ben Halloran scored Gold Coast-s second just three minutes later.

While the Mariners faced a battle to keep their focus, United put their foot down with some physical work lead by its senior players Tahj Minniecon and James Brown.

The Mariners got the spring back in their steps on the half hour, when captain Panny Nikas received a spot kick after being fouled in the penalty area by Zac Anderson. Nikas- shot was well read by Gold Coast goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson, who got a hand to the ball but was unable to stop it reaching the net.

The home side sprung into action and was straight back on the attack after the kick-off but some desperate Gold Coast defence kept the Mariners at bay.

The action was end to end in the opening stages of the second half, with the Mariners desperate to level the scores, while the Gold Coast continued to strive for that killer blow.

The visitors sealed the game in the 83rd minute after some great lead-up work from Minniecon, who had caused the Mariners headaches all game.

He set young Chris Harold up to slip the ball past Central Coast goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and inside the left post.

The home side threw everything at the Gold Coast in the dying minutes but was unable to penetrate the stoic defence.

Central Coast coach Tony Walmsley conceded his playing depth had been 'stretched' by injury in the final weeks of the competition but said his side had paid for giving the Gold Coast an early two-goal advantage.

"Credit to the boys for fighting their way back but it was just too big a mountain to climb in the end," Walmsley said.

GOLD COAST 3 (Wearing 1, Halloran 4, Harold 83) CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 1 (Nikas pen. 30)