Tom Slater's Two Year Battle

When Sydney FC's youth team play their last home game of the season against the Central Coast Mariners at Cromer Park on Sunday, local junior Tom Slater will be lining up in Sky Blue. But very few would have predicted that three years earlier.

When Sydney FC's youth team play their last home game of the season against the Central Coast Mariners at Cromer Park on Sunday, local junior Tom Slater will be lining up in Sky Blue. But very few would have predicted that three years earlier.

The Manly native broke his leg in a freak surfing accident at the tender age of 13 and was forced to spend two years on the sidelines. Rather than abandoning his footballing dreams, the youngster came back hungrier than ever.

"It was pretty tough coming back," said Slater.

"It took me two and a half years until I could fully play again, but Ian Crook gave me a trial at NSWIS. He's a good coach."

Slater was drafted into the Sydney squad by the then-youth coach Crook, and has scored two goals in his debut season.

As the son of former Socceroos striker Robbie Slater, the young winger admits to feeling the pressure of expectation at times, but maintains a level head.

"In some ways it's an advantage but in some ways people think differently," he said.

"I always think of that [expectation] but I guess I try not to. I just play my own game."

The young Sky Blues will face up to the Mariners, historically one of the league's best developers of young talent.

The quietly spoken 16 year old believes it will be a good test of his side's progress.

"They played really well against us the first time - they play good football."

"It would be good for our final games to match that and see that we've improved."

The Sky Blues will be looking for their fifth home win in a row when we take on fellow Finals contenders Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium tonight. A win could give Sydney breathing space over their Finals Series rivals as the race gets down to the business end. We need every bit of support possible so get buying your tickets from Ticketek and help the boys push for the Finals. Adults start from $25, kick off is 5.30pm.