After walking away from the weekend’s local derby against Newcastle with a point, the Mariners turn their focus to a Friday night fixture against Melbourne Victory at North Sydney Oval. It has been a turbulent week on the Coast, with no signs of the controversy storm abating.
Slowly developing a cutting edge
With the possession and shooting stats in their favour, the Mariners were still only able to grab a point against the Jets in Newcastle. Richard Vernes impressed in patches and scored a goal in his first A-League start, but he was lacking proper support from his teammates in threatening Ben Kennedy, with Matt Sim squandering a great chance late in the second half.
The Hungarian attacker slotted in well at the top of the formation and took his goal well, hopefully further playing time with Mitchell Duke, Nick Fitzgerald and the returning Matt Simon can create the fluency required to consistently score goals. A special mention is also reserved for young striker Josh Bingham, who made his debut for the club off the bench.
McKinna walks away, Storrie enters the frame
Fans of the club were rocked on Monday when news broke of Lawrie McKinna’s resignation from his role of club ambassador. This is the first time in ten years that the Mariners’ inaugural coach hasn’t been affiliated with the club in some form, and is believed to have done so after (becoming disenchanted with the club’s new policies.
To add insult to injury, The Australian reported that the club had brought in former Portsmouth and West Ham CEO Peter Storrie as a consultant. During his time at Portsmouth the club accrued debts in excess of 150 million pounds and went into administration. Fans were livid by the appointment, and were further unimpressed when Storrie threw support behind the relocation of the club to Northern Sydney.
Bat or bowl?
There has been thorough debate about Friday’s venue, with the quality of the pitch under scrutiny. North Sydney Oval is primarily a cricket ground and the sport requires a firm centre, causing Victory coach Kevin Muscat to brand the surface ‘unsafe’. Mark Milligan has also spoken out, expressing his concern after the Melbourne side sustained a number injuries when playing at the Adelaide Oval earlier in the season.
Keeper Nathan Coe argued that both sides will have to deal with the same surface, but it will be interesting to watch the post-match press conferences if any players go down with injuries during the match.
Make or break December
Friday’s match starts a month in which the Mariners will play four sides above them in the table. Following their clash with the Victory, Phil Moss’ side make trips to Perth and Wellington before coming back to Gosford on December 27th when Brisbane Roar travel to Central Coast Stadium.
If the club is to maintain any aspirations of playing finals football this season, at least four points from these four matches need to be gained. In spite of losses against Perth and Wellington at home this season they were only decided by slender margins and Brisbane will be missing Thomas Broich following his recent ankle surgery.
However, they could get themselves off to a perfect start for the final month of 2014 with a win against the Victory. The Mariners have a proud history of thriving under adversity and if Moss can rally the troops an upset isn’t out of the question against the competition’s most potent side.