After an entertaining 1-1 draw with the Western Sydney Wanderers last week, the Mariners head to Melbourne to take on John Aloisi’s Melbourne Heart.
An 18 man squad has flown to Melbourne, which includes all 16 players selected last week with Hayden Morton and Michael Neil the two additions. Michael McGlinchey will again be absent after representing the New Zealand All-Whites mid-week.
His replacement against the Wanderers, Nick Fitzgerald, should retain his starting spot, along with the rest of Arnold’s starting XI from last week’s match.
The Central Coast boast a great record against the Heart winning 7 out of the 9 matches played between the two clubs, and last season the Tuggerah based club recorded 5 clean sheets against the red half of Melbourne. However Arnold won’t be relying on previous results.
“We know that we’re going to have to perform at a better level tomorrow against Melbourne Heart who have recruited quite well,” Arnold said.
“Melbourne Heart at home are a very strong side and they have a good record at AAMI (Park). We’ve got to go down there with a strong mentality and be confident that we can do the job.”
The Heart enter the round 2 clash after coming off a scoreless draw against bitter rivals Melbourne Victory. During the match the Heart’s captain Harry Kewell was struck on the head by Adrian Leijer and is rated at a 50-50 chance to take on the Mariners. Aloisi is hopeful his big off-season signing will take part.
“[He's] still struggling a little bit,” Aloisi said.
“We are going to leave it until the last minute and give him a fitness test tomorrow morning and see if he’s okay”.
In a team that included 7 new faces from last season’s Grand Final side the Central Coast played well against the reigning Premiers who had the luxury of starting Shinji Ono from the bench. Despite conceding a goal late, it was a performance full of positives for the Mariners.
Justin Pasfield showed confidence in goals after pulling off a number of vital saves. Further up field Marcos Flores provided plenty of attacking opportunities, which included an assist to Mitchell Duke who is looking to cement his starting spot before last’s season’s golden boot winner Daniel McBreen returns to the Coast from China.
If Flores and the Mariners strikers can get on the same wavelength, they will cause plenty of problems for the Heart’s defense.
While the Heart played above expectations last week against Victory, they face a much tougher task this Saturday evening.
Mariners to win 2-0.
Saturday, 19 October 2013
Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 5:30pm AEDT
Referee: Ben Williams