Central Coast continued their winless run on the weekend after being blown away in the second half of their Friday night clash with the Victory. With Matt Simon back in the starting eleven for the first time this season the Mariners looked like a more complete outfit in the first half and went into the break with the scores level. However once Simon had been substituted for Mitchell Duke shortly after the restart a degree of presence was lost in the forward line, allowing the Victory to play themselves into form and score three goals in the space of eleven minutes.
North Sydney Oval – Success or Failure?
Much had been discussed in the build-up to this fixture about the potential relocation of more matches to the Northern suburbs, with owner Mike Charlesworth coming under fire from fans for his comments in the media.
Now in light of the horrific weather that assailed the ground throughout the day, the official crowd of 7098 was pleasing, though that figure was boosted by the large amount of free tickets provided to local clubs.
However there were a number of concerns with the ground itself, notably a cut out of broadcast footage for a lengthy period in the first half. Kevin Muscat was also disparaging in his post-match comments, stating that football had “gone back 20 years” due the game being played on a cricket pitch.
Whilst Charlesworth may want to tap into the club’s supporters in the area, it was clear that North Sydney Oval is still miles away from being a ground of A-League standard. Maybe February’s game at Brookvale Oval will garner more interest and generate less controversy, but at present it looks as though the Northern Spirit’s former home would damage the competition’s reputation.
The past week has seen the emergence of a fan group determined to express the community’s opposition to a North Sydney relocation and has enlisted the services of Lawrie McKinna as an ambassador.
With two games on the road in the lead-up to Christmas, Stand Up for the Mariners are looking to use this time to generate a wave of interest in order to fill out Central Coast Stadium on December 27 against Brisbane Roar.
Membership record broken
Whether the numbers have come from North Sydney converts or Central Coast locals rallying behind their team, it is worth mentioning that a new all-time membership count of 5,973 was set, with the club hoping to eclipse 6,000 as people purchase further packages in the lead up to Christmas.
No mercy for Mariners
Phil Moss and the boys will be travelling across the Tasman this weekend to battle with Wellington at Westpac Stadium. Not only did the Phoenix dispose of our local rivals Newcastle in the previous round, but they racked up five goals against Melbourne City last time they played on their home turf.
Former Mariner, Michael McGlinchey has been in sparkling form this season and will be looking to heap more misery on his old club, while Nathan Burns will be eager to push his case for Socceroos selection after being named in the provisional Asian Cup squad on Monday.
In order to come away with a respectable result, the boys will have to focus on the level of football they produced in the first half against the Victory. Hopefully Simon will be able to start again and continue to build fluency with the likes of Caceres, Fitzgerald and Vernes. If they can score the first goal, the defence should hold out enough for the side to at least grab another draw, but with a trip to Perth following this a win is crucial to remaining within reach of the top six.