Mariners Youth snatch a draw

Competition new boys Gold Coast United were denied a perfect start to the season as the Central Coast Mariners grabbed an injury-time equaliser for the second week in succession as the teams shared six points.

Competition new boys Gold Coast United were denied a perfect start to the season as the Central Coast Mariners grabbed an injury-time equaliser for the second week in succession as the teams shared six points.

The visitors again looked set to claim all three points after their 2-1 win in Perth last week only to see Panni Nikas coolly slot home a penalty two minutes into injury time.

Mariners were able to field an impressive attacking trio in overage players Adam Kwasnik and Ahmad Elrich, plus captain Nikas who was absent from the opening 1-1 draw in Adelaide due to NSW Premier League commitments.

Gold Coast United on the back of the only away win in round 1 of the National Youth League looked set to repeat the feat in their second outing opening the scoring on ten minutes.

Reuben Way scored with a neat finish from near the penalty spot after Gold Coast won possession in midfield and quickly broke downfield scoring past an exposed Nikodin Matic.

The Mariners responded in positive fashion and it was no surprise when Kwasnik equalised with a neat strikers finish from just inside the penalty area following a good build-up involving Nicholas Fitzgerald and Nikas.

The visitors could have gone ahead when a near-post corner caused havoc but David D'Apuzzo cleared Chris Harold's effort off the line.

Nikas put the Mariners into the lead with a superb strike from outside the penalty area showing the kind of form that has netted the midfielder a bagful of goals with the Sutherland Sharks including last week's winning Grand Final.

The second half commenced at a high-tempo producing chances at both ends with Luka Dukic forced to clear off the line in a near repeat of the first-half incident.

The visitors though got their reward from the ensuing corner with captain Zachary Anderson flicking on a corner with Harold slotting home.

Harold then put United into the lead 15 minutes later with the goal of the night. The diminutive striker scoring with a stunning finish after running with purpose downfield before unleashing a delicious curling effort into the far corner.

It was nearly a hat-trick for Harold with a powerful header from distance tipped onto the crossbar by Nikodin Matic ten minutes from time.

Elrich looked set to equalise two minutes from time when released down the right but his shot across the goal struck the post and was cleared to safety.

The home side pushed hard for an equaliser and was rewarded when Anderson bundled over D'Apuzzo just inside the penalty area. There was still time for Elrich to blaze a snapshot over before the full-time whistle ended an entertaining encounter.

National Youth League Central Coast Mariners 3 (Adam Kwasnik 21', Panni Nikas 38', 92' pen) Gold Coast United 3 (Reuben Way 9', Chris Harold 54', 69')