National Youth League Week 5 Preview

Gold Coast United belatedly got their title defence under way with a first win of the NYL campaign last weekend and will be looking to build on it against the Heart.

Gold Coast United FC v Melbourne Heart FC

Owen Park, Saturday 3pm

Gold Coast United belatedly got their title defence under way with a first win of the NYL campaign on Sunday, beating Adelaide United 4-1 in a performance far more familiar for Mike Mulvey's men. It took a comical goal in the opening minutes to spark GCU, with Daniel Severino's strike hitting the crossbar before spinning back across the line before Adelaide goalkeeper John Hall could react. Whether that slice of fortune can prove the spark that got United's season going remains to be seen, as they face an in-form Melbourne Heart outfit - who are just goal difference from top of the NYL table - on Saturday. Overage player Rutger Worm may be destined for a senior role on Friday against United, but it was his header that opened the scoring in Heart's 3-1 against the Newcastle Jets on Sunday. Kristian Sarkies set-pieces led to Heart's opening two goals, while stand-in centre back Josh Groenewald did his claims for a move further forward no harm with his side's second strike.

Adelaide United FC v Perth Glory FC

Burton Park, Saturday 4.30pm

Adelaide United possess one of the youngest NYL sides this season, and it has perhaps contributed to their consecutive losses since Week 2's 3-1 victory over Brisbane Roar. They were unfortunate to take on a Gold Coast United outfit finally free of their early season shackles in Sunday's 4-1 loss, but they will be keen to avoid a third consecutive loss when the Glory visit at all costs. Liam Wooding - one of several Australian youth internationals in Adelaide's ranks - showed his quality with a long-distance stunner for his side's consolation against the Gold Coast, but more of the same will be required on Saturday. Any lingering good feeling over Perth's consecutive wins to start the new campaign would have surely faded away after Sunday's 5-2 loss at home to Sydney FC. Glory had conceded four goals by the 51st minute even with the presence of former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski in their line-up, though Alex Caniglia and Byron Hudson hit consolation strikes and the lively Ndumba Makeche will need minding by United.

Central Coast Mariners v AIS

Pluim Park, Sunday 11am

Consecutive wins - including a stunning 6-0 belting of Melbourne Victory last Friday - have marked Central Coast as one of the NYL's form teams. Livewire striker Kwabena Appiah-Kubi is fast emerging as one to watch for the Mariners, even if his superb performance against the Victory was overshadowed by midfielder Justin Hayward's hat-trick. Adrian Pellegrino's consistent performances for the Mariners' youth have won him a call-up to the senior squad, but Brad McDonald will again provide leadership from defence. The AIS would have been disappointed not to have returned from Brisbane on Saturday with at least a point, having failed to get closer than 3-2 despite playing much of the match a man up after Matt Mundy's first-half dismissal. Goalkeeper Paul Izzo continued to show why he is so highly rated with another sound performance against the Roar, but fellow Australia Under-17 representative Riley Woodcock will miss the match after his late sending off on Saturday.

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory FC Leichhardt Oval, Sunday 3pm

The fortunes of these two rivals could not have contrasted any further in Week 4. While Victory returned to Melbourne nursing a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Central Coast, Sydney's trip home from Perth would have been a little more enjoyable after a 5-2 win over the Glory. Midfielder Mitchell Mallia is proving quite the hat-trick king for the Sky Blues, having hit his second treble of the season in the trouncing of Perth. With Joel Chianese, Dimi Petratos, Caleb Rufer and Joey Gibbs adding to Sydney's attacking clout, Victory need an immediate return to form at Leichhardt Oval if they are to avoid another big loss. With the senior team stretched by injury and suspension, Victory coach Darren Davies has not been able to call upon many senior faces and his winless side has now conceded 11 goals in their last two matches. A return to form against their oldest rival could not be more welcome.

Newcastle Jets FC v Brisbane Roar FC

Adamstown Oval, Sunday 4pm

Brisbane Roar showed their stoic side with a 3-2 win over the AIS on Saturday, despite playing the entire second half with 10 men after Matt Mundy's dismissal. Newcastle should be wary of the attacking talent in the line-up of their league-leading opposition. Nick Fitzgerald has seamlessly settled in Brisbane after his move from Central Coast, striking a superb double in the win over the AIS. James Meyer and Rocky Visconte may have been sighted more at senior level at most other A-League clubs, and their performances could see them called upon by Ange Postecoglou on Saturday. George Lambadaridis continues to show the benefits of his season away with Club Brugge's youth side, proving a sound foil for Fitzgerald in midfield. The Jets are likely to have the services of at least one of Ali Abbas, James Virgili and Labinot Haliti, the latter of who was one of the NYL side's better players in the loss to the Heart. Chris Payne should again turn out for Mark Jones' men again in his search for form and fitness, but Mario Simic will miss after receiving two yellow cards in as many seconds against the Heart.