GCU claim Youth League crown

Gold Coast United have secured back-to-back National Youth League titles after a commanding 2-1 win over the Australian Institute of Sport at Southport Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

Gold Coast United have secured back-to-back National Youth League titles after a commanding 2-1 win over the Australian Institute of Sport at Southport Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

Goals to Andrew Barisic and captain Steven Lustica capped off a marvellous team performance from the Coast, displaying the defensive maturity, ingenuity in midfield and killer touch in attack they have done all season to secure their second piece of silverware at youth level.

The victory gives United an unassailable lead at the summit of the NYL table, a fitting reward for a side who are now undoubtedly the premier youth team in Australia after taking the title in their first two years in the competition.

"We did more than enough to win the game and we are deserved champions of the National Youth League," said a proud United Youth coach Mike Mulvey after the game.

"It's very satisfying from a personal perspective simply because the lads are very coachable."

"But we've done it through playing football, and that's what pleases me more than anything. Some of the football we played today, against a very good AIS team who will form the majority of our country's under-17 team, was a joy to behold."

"It was champagne football with an edge, because we scored goals. There's a lot of self-belief in this group and they wanted to win the championship and do it back-to-back."

"Strength in depth is what it's all about and if we can gel those young players with a good spattering of our senior players, then we'll be delighted."

It only took 11 minutes for the hosts to stamp their authority on the match, with Koh Satake winning possession in midfield and looping the perfect ball over the top for Barisic to run on to and tuck away past AIS gloveman Paul Izzo to take the lead.

Despite the soaring heat, Gold Coast maintained their control of the match, with Mitch Cooper looking particularly dangerous at the half-hour mark after showing great close control to chest the ball down before unleashing a wild shot on goal that unfortunately fizzed over the target.

It was one of a series of chances engineered by the deft touch of 16-year-old Cooper, who looked assured and confident enough in his own ability to showcase his flair and creativity to become a constant menace on the left flank.

Eventually the pressure from the hosts became too much for the Institute, leaking a second goal in the 38th minute after Ben Halloran reached into his bag of tricks to unleash his captain Lustica, who rushed forward into the box, danced around the AIS defence and slotted home the afternoon's second goal.

Their dominance carried through to the second half, with United's rearguard rarely troubled and their strikeforce continuing to press forward, with Ben Halloran's 70th minute shot denied by a top save from Izzo.

But the conditions played their part as the urgency of the first stanza dying out as the match continued, with the game and championship all but secured despite the AIS's Jesse Makarounas slipping through for a consolation goal in the dying moments.

Gold Coast United 2 (Barisic 11', Lustica 38')

Australian Institute of Sport 1 (Makarounas '90+3')