National Youth League Week 8 Preview

Gold Coast United’s form revival came to an end in Week 7 against Perth Glory, having won their three previous matches after overcoming a poor start.

Gold Coast United FC v Sydney FC
Owen Park, Saturday 3pm

Gold Coast United’s form revival came to an end in Week 7 against Perth Glory, having won their three previous matches after overcoming a poor start.

On Saturday, they face a Sydney FC side lying in fifth on the table, despite scoring the second-most goals this season at a rate of more than three a match.

The Sky Blues drew 4-4 with Brisbane Roar last Saturday, in the sort of match that perhaps sums up the NYL season as a whole so far.

Midfielder Mitchell Mallia’s remarkable season among the goals continued with a brace in the draw, while Mike Mulvey’s United side – winner of the past two NYL titles – will be out to get their campaign back on track.

AIS v Newcastle Jets FC
AIS Athletics Track, Saturday 4pm

With two wins and four draws to their names, the AIS’ Jekyll and Hyde show moves home to Canberra for the visit of the Newcastle Jets on Saturday.

The Jets come into the match in winning form, with Chris Payne’s double helping his side get over an improving Melbourne Victory 2-1 last Sunday.

How much longer the Jets will have the services of Payne is unclear, with the former Sydney FC and North Queensland Fury striker perhaps now beginning to overcome the form and fitness issues that saw him relegated to the NYL.

The AIS showed glimpses of their best but were ultimately beaten 2-0 by visiting Melbourne Heart last Saturday, with Australia Under-17 graduates Stefan Mauk, Jacob Melling and goalkeeper Paul Izzo needing to lead the way should the capital side overcome the Jets.

Perth Glory Youth v Central Coast Mariners
6PR Stadium, Sunday 10am

Perth Glory have top spot in the NYL in their sights, and they are becoming increasingly tougher to beat at home in the west.

One point behind their opponents and just two points from league-leading Melbourne Heart, visitors Central Coast Mariners returned from Adelaide in Week 7 with a 2-0 win tucked under their arm, courtesy of goals to impressive young defender Trent Sainsbury and substitute Justin Hayward.

The Glory will take some confidence from their 3-2 win over the Mariners when the two sides met on the Central Coast in October – a score Sunday’s visitors will be out to overturn.

Melbourne Victory FC v Adelaide United FC
Kingston Heath, Sunday 2.30pm

In the battle of the league’s bottom two sides, Melbourne Victory host Adelaide United on Sunday, and both will be eyeing the confidence a win could have on their campaign.

Victory are pointless this season and have conceded 22 goals in just six appearances, though they will take some solace from an improved performance in the 2-1 loss to Newcastle last Sunday.

James Jeggo got Victory’s consolation in that result, and again showed his potential with a positive cameo off the bench for the senior side’s friendly with the LA Galaxy on Tuesday.

Winless since Week 2, United seemed to capitulate in the second half of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Mariners, but have Young Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Birighitti back in action and will be a dangerous outfit once their young, talented side begins to find their groove.

Brisbane Roar FC v Melbourne Heart FC
Cleveland Showgrounds, Sunday 3pm

While the NYL’s bottom sides battle it out, the competition’s top two complete Week 8 soon after.

The Brisbane Roar coughed up top spot with their 4-4 draw with Sydney FC last Saturday, and will be out to snatch it back at home against new leaders Melbourne Heart.

The undefeated streak of Roar’s senior side came to a grinding halt last Sunday, but it would be unlikely to mean wholesale changes by Ange Postecoglou.

Several players have been knocking on the door from the NYL side, however, including Rocky Visconte, scorer of a brace against Sydney FC.

Heart, meanwhile, come into the match seeking their third-consecutive victory, with the likes of overage Kristian Sarkies and David Williams a chance to continue their push for senior selection in the NYL on Sunday.