Central Coast Need To End Losing Streak

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Coming off four straight defeats domestically and a midweek loss in the Asian Champions League, the Central Coast Mariners this week return home to take on Sydney FC.

Entering round 21 on a five game losing streak across all competitions the Mariners are vulnerable at the moment and currently sit sixth. They face a Sydney side who are fifth and on a two game winning run.

Central Coast were embarrassed last week by a rampant Wellington side who themselves were coming off a 5-0 hiding the week before. Bernie Ibini put the home side in front midway through the first half; however from there it was all Wellington who put four past the reigning champions in a dominant display.

The Sky Blues have won two in a row, a 2-1 victory over Perth at home and then a 2-0 win over the Jets in Newcastle. Coach Frank Farina has pulled off another ‘Houdini’ act. After mounting pressure on his role again this season, Sydney have strung together some good results and eased this pressure.

Ins & Outs:

Phil Moss welcomes back four players from suspension for the clash against Sydney with Matt Simon, Josh Rose, Nick Fitzgerald, and Brent Griffiths all being included in Moss’ 18 man squad. Simon, Rose, and Fitzgerald all featured midweek in the Mariners ACL clash with FC Seoul.

Mile Sterjovski and Eddy Bosnar didn’t travel to South Korea due to back soreness, however both should line up against the Sky Blues.

Tom Slater and Glen Trifiro have both been omitted for round 21.

Frank Farina has named an 18 man squad with Nick Carle returning from injury, Aaron Calver returning from suspension and Mile Dimitrijevic being promoted.

Daniel Petkovski is the only player omitted.

The Key Stats:

- Despite being fourth on the table ahead of this match day, Sydney FC have lost more games than any other Hyundai A-League team this season (10).

- Central Coast Mariners have lost four games in a row – their longest such run since December 2009 (five games).

- Central Coast Mariners have not conceded a goal before the 20th minute in a Hyundai A-League game this season; the only side not yet to do so.

- Sydney FC have scored the highest proportion of goals in the first half of matches this season (63%).

- Central Coast Mariners have conceded seven goals in their last two A-League home games – the same number as they had in their previous 15 at home in the competition.

The Key Issues:

Central Coast: it’s all about goals for the Mariners, both scoring them, and also not conceding them. In their 5 game losing streak Central Coast have conceded 10 and scored only 3. But where are the goals going to come from? Last season’s Golden Boot winner Daniel McBreen has left and top scorer Marcos Flores is out for the remainder of the season with injury. Bernie Ibini scored a great goal last week, yet was played out of position on Tuesday night thus limiting his impact on the game. The Mariners are creating the opportunities yet not taking them, that alone needs to change and change fast.

Sydney: while it sounds simple, the Sky Blues need to beat teams they are meant to beat. If Sydney are to be taken seriously this season heading towards the finals, playing a vulnerable side like the Mariners, they need to win convincingly. Sydney needs to set the tone early and dominate the home side, placing more pressure on an already struggling side. If they can win the battle early, they will be in a good place at full time.

The X-Factor:

Phil Moss is a man under increasing pressure and some Mariners fans are becoming more restless with Graham Arnold’s successor. Despite the high player turnover Moss has endured, the style of play doesn’t seem to suit the type of players he has at his disposal and the way they play their football isn’t what Central Coast supporters are used to seeing. A defensive mindset seems to be plaguing the Mariners, and while many say defence wins games, it’s obviously not working. Moss needs not to take risks but he does need to change the Mariners style of play and utilise his players better.

Prediction:

Despite both sides recent records coming in to this clash, I can’t see the Mariners making it six straight defeats. Central Coast have won both games against Sydney this season 1-0 and I believe it will be a hat trick for the reigning champions. Tomorrow night’s fixture is set to be a wet affair with rain forecast which I believe gives the Mariners the advantage after their solid results in the wet in recent times. Central Coast need to throw everything at Sydney and correct the slide they are on, the opportunity is there, the Mariners now need to take it.

Central Coast 1-0.

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Saturday, 1 March 2014
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-off: 5:30pm local (5:30pm AEDT)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referee 1: David Walsh
Assistant Referee 2: Sarah Ho
Fourth Official: Chris Young
#CCMvSYD

Head-to-Head:
Played 27 – Wins: Central Coast 10, Sydney FC 10, Draws: 7

Previous Encounter:
Sydney FC 0 – 1 Central Coast, January 18 2013

Form: (Past five A-League matches)
Central Coast Mariners: LLLLW
Sydney FC: WWLLW

Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1.Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 3.Joshua ROSE, 4.Marcel SEIP, 5.Zachary ANDERSON, 6.Brent GRIFFITHS, 7.John HUTCHINSON (C), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 9.Mitchell DUKE, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (Gk), 15.Storm ROUX, 17.Anthony CACERES, 19.Matt SIMON, 20.Bernie IBINI, 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.KIM Seung-yong, 29.Matt SIM
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Joshua ROSE (return from suspension), 6.Brent GRIFFITHS (return from suspension), 11.Nick FITZGERALD (return from suspension), 19.Matt SIMON (return from suspension)
Outs: 22.Tom SLATER (omitted), 28.Glen TRIFIRO (omitted)
Unavailable: 10.Marcos FLORES (knee – season), 14.Michael MCGLINCHEY (on loan – Vegalta Sendai), 18.Michael NEILL (knee – season), 23.Adam KWASNIK (knee – season)

Sydney FC squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 4.Ranko DESPOTOVIC, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 9.Corey GAMEIRO, 10.Alessandro DEL PIERO (c), 11.Richard GARCIA, 13.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 17.Terry ANTONIS, 19.Nick CARLE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 22.Ali ABBAS, 24.Hagi GLIGOR, 28.Matt THOMPSON, 29.Alec UROSEVSKI, 34.Aaron CALVER 36.Themba MUATA-MARLOW
**Two to be omitted**
Ins: Aaron CALVER, (Returns from Suspension), Nick CARLE (Return from injury), Milos DIMITRIJEVIC (promoted)
Outs: Daniel PETKOVSKI (Omitted)
Unavailable: Rhyan GRANT (knee – season), Pedj BOJIC (back, – indefinite).

Matthew Berry

Matthew Berry is Football Central's Central Coast Mariners correspondent.

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