Central Coast Mariners Youth recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers Youth in Tuggerah on Sunday to regain top spot on the NYL table.
First-half goals from Central Coast's Hyundai A-League squad members Adam Kwasnik and Adriano Pellegrino, combined with Patrick Dixon's late left-foot stunner, earned John McLafferty's team their sixth win of the campaign.
A tight defensive display by the junior yellow and navy ensured the baby Wanderers were restricted to only a few decent goalscoring opportunities throughout the Round 7 contest.
However, the game may have ended differently had former Newcastle Jets man Tarek Elrich converted his one-on-one opportunity against Mariners custodian David Bradasevic early on.
Indeed, the game was just 15 minutes old when Elrich steamed forward before sending a low shot at goal. Bradasevic, however, proved up to the test, dropping low to his right to parry the ball to safety.
Only seven minutes later Central Coast took the lead. After Nikola Stanojevic's shot was blocked away for a corner, Pellegrino swung in an accurate set piece where Kwasnik leapt highest, guiding his header into the back of the net.
Having made the assist for the opening goal, Pellegrino was in the thick of the action again just eight minutes later.
This time, he received the ball outside the box before unleashing a powerful right foot drive, with Wanderers custodian Thomas Manos unable to get enough contact on the ball to prevent McLafferty’s boys from extending their lead.
Elrich was looking the man most likely to bring Trevor Morgan's side back into the contest, however he couldn't quite manage to apply the finishing touch to a number of half-chances after the interval.
And despite going down to 10 men after Brent Griffiths was shown a straight red for a foul in the Western Sydney penalty area on 81 minutes, Mariners Youth managed to add gloss to the scoreline late on via the boot of former Australian Institute of Sport scholar Dixon.
With just four minutes of regular time remaining, Dixon unleashed a left-foot drive from the edge of the area that left Western Sydney's substitute stopper Aaron Lidell with no chance.
Kwabena Appiah-Kubi had an opportunity to reduce the deficit late when he made a good run into the box, but unfortunately for Morgan's side the pacey attacker just failed to guide the ball past the big frame of Bradasevic.
Central Coast Mariners Youth regain first place on the NYL ladder with 18 points to their credit, while Western Sydney Wanderers Youth remain mid-table with nine points secured so far this campaign.
Both sides have big NYL clashes to look forward to next Saturday, with Mariners Youth travelling north to face Newcastle Jets in the junior F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium, while Western Sydney Wanderers Youth host crosstown foes Sydney FC Youth at Campbelltown Stadium.
Central Coast Mariners Youth 3 (Kwasnik 23', Pellegrino 30', Dixon 86')
Western Sydney Wanderers Youth 0
Central Coast Mariners Youth: 1. David Bradasevic (Gk), 2. Nikola Stanojevic (c), 3. Michael Neill, 5. Hayden Morton, 7. Adam Jenner, 8. Adriano Pellegrino (6. Adriano Pellegrino 45’), 13. Brent Griffiths, 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres, 18. Adam Kwasnik (14. Jordan Crighton 35’), 19. Mitchell Duke (12. Patrick Dixon 45’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Daniel Sadaka (Gk)
Western Sydney Wanderers Youth: 2. Brian Jamba (9. Alistair Quinn 52’), 3. Jacob Williams, 4. Stepjan Paric, 5. Jayden Koulizakis, 6. Jake McGing (15. James Baldacchino 60’), 7. Nicholas Olsen (13. Mark Cindric 58’), 8. Yianni Perkatis, 10. Daniel Barac, 11. Tarek Elrich, 14. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, 20. Thomas Manos (Gk) (1. Aaron Lidell (Gk) 68’)
Substitutes not used: Nil