Mrdja inspires Mariners youth

The Central Coast Mariners have beaten the Newcastle Jets 4-2 in their Round 14 National Youth League clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday afternoon.

The Central Coast Mariners have beaten the Newcastle Jets 4-2 in their Round 14 National Youth League clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday afternoon.

The Mariners jumped to an early 2-0 lead via strikes to Brady Smith and Nik Mrdja before the Jets wrestled their way back into the match with goals to Brodie Mooy and Adrian Karakolevski to see the sides locked at 2-2 at half-time.

The Jets came out firing in the second stanza but the dominant presence of Mrdja, setting up a goal for Greg Owens and scoring one of his own was enough to give the Mariners a handsome 4-2 win.

It was the fourth win of the season for the Central Coast and lifts them into equal fifth spot on the NYL ladder alongside the Jets on 10 points.

The Mariners, playing with A-League regulars Mrdja, Owens and Nigel Boogaard in their ranks had the better of the start in perfect conditions and grabbed the opener in just the 3rd minute when Smith met to a long floating corner at the back post with a neat first-time strike.

The visitors continued to dominate possession and territory and grabbed their second in the 27th minute courtesy of a wonderful Mrdja strike. The lanky forward was gifted the ball outside the penalty area by Jets defender Antun Kovacic before he unleashed a powerful 25-yard shot that torpedoed past Newcastle goalkeeper Jordan Griffiths and into the back of the net.

The Jets finally managed to find their rhythm and pegged a goal back just after the half-hour mark when Mooy popped up at the back post to head home a Shaun Ontong corner.

Newcastle continued to produce some enterprising football and was rewarded just before half-time when Kaz Patafta slid a nice through-ball for Karakolevski, who calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net from 15 yards out.

Newcastle came out after the interval and picked up where it left off creating a number of chances on the edge of the area. Jesse Pinto, who came on for Ontong at half-time fired an 18-yard shot just wide of the right post before hitting the woodwork with his flicked on header while Karakolevski fired a rocket-like 20-yard volley just over the crossbar.

Down the other end Mrdja was continuing to give the Jets defence plenty of headaches and it was his handy work that turned the match back into the Mariners' favour. He took the ball to the byline before lobbing a left-footed cross to the back post where an unmarked Owens slotted in a first-time chance to make it 3-2 to Central Coast after 65 minutes.

Mrdja then wrapped up the match in the 69th minute via a clinical strike after being put into the area by a lovely one-two with Mariners substitute midfielder Ashley Balcomb.

Match Details

Newcastle Jets 2 (Brodie MOOY 31-, Adrian KARAKOLEVSKI 42-) Central Coast Mariners 4 (Brady SMITH 4-, Nik MRDJA 28-/66-, Greg OWENS 62-)

Friday 26 December EnergyAustralia Stadium Local kick off 5.15pm AEDT

Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones Assistant Referees: Nathan Magill, Michael Amloh Fourth Official: Tim McGilchrist

Newcastle Jets line up: 1.Jordan GRIFFITHS (gk), 2.Jarrad ROSS (9.Ben MARTIN 59-), 3.Antun KOVACIC (OA) (15.James VIRGILLI 46-), 4.Jon GRIFFITHS, 5.George STROGYLOS, 6.Taylor REGAN (c), 7.Brodie MOOY, 8.Shaun ONTONG (10.Jesse PINTO 46-), 12.Adrian KARAKOLEVSKI, 11.Kaz PATAFTA, 16.Matt HARPER.

Substitutes not used: Nil.

Yellow cards: George STROGYLOS 59-, Jon GRIFFITHS 61-. Red Cards: Nil.

Central Coast Mariners line up: 30.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk) (1.Matthew NASH (gk) 46-), 2.Steven TIBBETTS, 7.Matthew LEWIS, 8.Nick KAPSIS (13.Laurence BRAUDE 57-), 9.Brady SMITH (11.Darko VIDOVIC 61-), 10.Glen TRIFIRO (6.Ashley BALCOMB 59-), 12.Scott WRIGHT, 14.Greg OWENS (OA), 15.Nik MRDJA (OA), 16.Nigel BOOGAARD (OA), 17.Sean MITCHELL.

Substitutes not used: Nil.

Yellow cards: Brady SMITH 21-, Sean MITCHELL 39-, Nigel BOOGAARD 81-. Red Cards: Nil.