A-League Men’s 2021/22 mid-season report card: Central Coast Mariners

-

With half of the 2021/22 season passed in the A-League Men’s, it’s time to assess the good and the bad from the Central Coast Mariners thus far.

Semester Summary: 

Bursting out of the gates, Central Coast seemed to be continuing last season’s dominance. In recent weeks, however, it has not been all glitz and glamor. The Mariners remain winless in their last five outings, including their FFA Cup final heartbreak.

On a positive note, the first semester has seen the future on display. In a club based heavily on young communal talent there sure was no disappointment in this respect. It shows the path the club is taking to excel, an ideology assured by their head coach Nick Montgomery who has great faith their rookies can get the job done.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas of excellence:

Youth Development.

There may be no other team in the league producing quality young talent than Central Coast. Mid-way through the season and already 15 rookies born and bred in the academy have progressed into the first-team.

It’s not just to fill the squad either. Montgomery has not been afraid to start them, and for Mariners fans that has been a showcase of what the future of the club and the league has to offer.

And the confidence and maturity of the young side has been acknowledged, including Jacob Farrell being recognised as the November/December nominee for Young Player of the Year.

Montgomery’s system is becoming evermore effective, and continuing to keep these rookies in the action will only mature the side’s strength.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas in need of improvement:

Consistency.

Everyone knows the Mariners as the underdogs of the competition most seasons. They began to eliminate that title a quarter into the season, comfortably sitting in fourth place despite being behind in matches played, dominating in both FFA Cup and A-League competitions. Mid-way, they now sit ninth, and their early success is seemingly a thing of the past.

In the past two games Central Coast have forfeited late leads because of missing chances to ice the match. This has cost them a potential spot in the top four.

The team has the lowest budget of all teams, carries the most inexperienced and smallest squad, and has been one of the worst affected with COVID interruptions, so form of late can be excusable.

Nevertheless Central Coast have a frenzy of matches coming up in the next two weeks so their determination and mentality to push for another finals berth will be tested.

Embed from Getty Images

Top student: Kye Rowles

While only 24 years-old, Rowles has learnt to become a real leader of the team this season. His efforts in the defensive line has provided a strong base for his rookie wingers, and of course has been acknowledged with national honours.

Success rates of 55.8 per cent in duels and 62.1 per cent in aerial duels shows Rowles’ value to the inexperienced side.

While winning the ball is one thing, ball distribution has also been a strong point for him. With an 89.7 per cent success rate in completed passes to make the job for the receivers much easier to form attacking phases up front.

Needs improvement: 

Beni Nkololo.

One of the first visa signings of the season, expectations were high for Nkololo to be a standout up front. His first match in the round of 32 against Blacktown FC brought promise with his match-winning goal. Ever since, however, Nkololo has not burst onto the ALM scene.

Seven games and 317 minutes under his belt has given him chances to create opportunities to boost his ratings. With three total shots and only one on target, however, it shows he is yet to hit his stride.

Nkololo holds the potential to be a star, but with Moresche, Marco Urena, and Jason Cummings all dominating upfront, his time on the pitch must be used to a greater extent.

Embed from Getty Images

Grade: B-

Outlook: 

There is promise for the rest of the season if the Central Coast can execute putting games to bed.

The club has, hopefully, farewelled the COVID fiasco, meaning all squad members should be fit unless injury arises. This month will be the toughest though with games scheduled in a short time frame, but a couple of wins could change their season and push them into finals positioning.

With the arrival of Cummings up front and his quality performances, it only adds depth to the stacked attack. Fans will be hoping for the club to revive their early success in quick fashion.

Feature Image Credit: Robbie Szafranek

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Mitchell Roese
Mitchell Roese
Sports enthuse currently studying a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at the University of Technology Sydney. Covering the Central Coast Mariners 2021/22 A-League Season

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required