Youngsters are making their mark at both Victory and Mariners

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The talent at the disposal of Melbourne Victory and the Central Coast Mariners was on full display on Saturday night, with each coach asserting that they held a great deal of hope for the future of their youth contingent.

The majority of this contest belonged to each side’s respective defences, and heading up that defence for the Mariners was Kye Rowles and Daniel Hall, 23 and 22 years of age respectively.

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Coach Nick Montgomery was full of praise for his two centre-backs, describing their performances as “superb”.

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“We know the back four is young, but they’re growing in experience every week,” he said.

“Sometimes you have to experience a bit of short-term pain in order to get that long-term gain. I’m disappointed for the boys tonight, I think if we each walked away with a point tonight myself and Tony Popovic would’ve been happy with that result, but it wasn’t to be.”

Popovic himself had his own youngster to thank for the full three-points, as 20-year-old Nishan Velupillay pounced on a Chris Ikonomidis cross to score the winner deep into extra time.

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While he has suited up for 10 of a possible 12 matches, with only just over 300 minutes logged for the season, he has not been a mainstay in the starting XI.

Popovic was clear that this was not a result of any missteps by his striker.

“He’s a young player, he’s going to have ups and downs.

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He was left out last week because he’s adapting to training and to having the expectation of performing every day,” he said.

“This is all new to him, you can’t have two or three days where you don’t train well at this level.”

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He iterated that Velupillay has been doing all the right things in terms of his preparation, and his lack of minutes really comes down to the amount of talent in the Victory squad.

This talent was on display in the latter part of the match, as Victory found themselves with a flurry of chances coming via the feet of Robbie Kruse and Francesco Margiotta, to go along with the aforementioned Ikonomidis.

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But it was Velupillay who proved the difference-maker in this one, with Popovic summing it up nicely.

“He had a great impact, he came on and he was excellent,” he said. He’s a good young boy, we love him at the club, and we look forward to seeing what he produces next.”

Feature Image Credit: Robbie Szafranek

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Mitchell Turner
Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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