Mariners Aim To End Sky Blues Streak

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For the second consecutive week, the Central Coast Mariners enjoy a home fixture at Bluetongue Stadium. Their opponent this week is the in-form Sydney FC.

Last week, the Mariners produced one of their worst performances in a number of seasons against Melbourne Victory, and were lucky to escape with a draw.

While at Allianz Stadium, the Sky Blues enjoyed a 2-0 win over the Newcastle Jets in what was an identical result to their previous match on the opening night of the season.

The last time these two teams played in Gosford, the home side pulled off a remarkable 7-2 win, however it’s hard to see a result like that occurring again on Saturday night.

Ins and Outs:

Phil Moss still has the issue of who he partners Trent Sainsbury with in the middle of defence. Brent Griffiths has started in the last two games, but wasn’t at his best against the Victory, providing a performance somewhat similar to the man he replaced, Zac Anderson.

Anderson and midfielder Nick Fitzgerald were both missing from the match day squad last weekend, however both have been included in an 18 man squad for this week.

Anthony Caceres received a rare start as Nick Montgomery was still overcoming an injury to only be a second half substitute. Now fully fit, the Englishman will again join captain John Hutchinson as the two defensive midfielders.

Alessandro Del Piero will miss the clash after picking up an injury in the win over the Jets. While his team mates were able to score twice in his absence, the Italian superstar is still a huge loss.

Brett Emerton will also miss the match with a calf injury. Frank Farina has included youth players Alec Urosevski and Mitchell Mallia in his 18 man squad.

The Key Issue:

The Mariners need a win, badly. After last week’s performance, and the poor crowd that viewed it, Moss’ men need to show some signs of the team that won the championship last season. They need to put last week’s performance out of their thinking, and focus on a well earned three points at home. With Del Piero and Emerton out there is no better time for the Mariners to win their third game this season. If they shore things up defensively, they should have no problem scoring goals as they possess plenty of attacking options going forward.

Sydney need to maintain the confidence they have shown in their past four matches and attack the Mariners as often as they can. However they must also remain wary that the Central Coast will want to right the wrongs of last week and show they are contenders for this season. Sustained early pressure is the key for Sydney in winning this game. If they can get the Mariners out of rhythm and force mistakes, a record fifth consecutive win could be theirs.

The X-Factor:

Liam Reddy faces his former club after being sacked by Sydney for disciplinary issues mid-way through last season. These issues led to many Mariners supporters disagreeing with the clubs decision to sign him. However since making his first appearance against Brisbane Roar a month ago he has certainly impressed. Reddy has pulled off a number of quality saves and his distribution last week was sublime. He has played a big part in the Mariners results so far, and he will look to continue his great form on Saturday night.

Prediction:

This is a tough game in which to choose a winner. Sydney are without Del Piero and Emerton however have form on their side, while the Mariners are unchanged yet have started the season very slowly. Games between these two sides are historically very entertaining and should provide plenty of goals. Central Coast need a dramatic improvement if they are to win, while Sydney need to overcome the loss of two of their biggest stars. Both sides will be up for this clash, and I just can’t find a winner.

Draw 2-2.

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Saturday, 7 December 2013
Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Kick-off: 7.45pm local (7:45pm AEDT)
Referee: Peter Green
#CCMvSYD

HEAD TO HEAD:
Played 25. Wins: Central Coast 8, Sydney 10. Draws: 7

LAST TIME THEY MET:
March 9, 2013. Allianz Stadium: Central Coast 0 – 2 Sydney

RECENT FORM (Last 5):
Central Coast: WDLWD
Sydney FC: LWWWW

SQUADS:
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Justin PASFIELD (GK), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Marcos FLORES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Anthony CACERES, 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI *two to be omitted*
Ins: 5. Zachary ANDERSON (promoted), 11. Nick FITZGERALD (promoted)
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: 22. Tom SLATER (back – 2 weeks)

Sydney FC: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (go), 2.Seb RYALL, 4.Ranko DESPOTOVIC, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8. Pedj BOJIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Mitch MALLIA, 15.Terry MCFLYNN, 16.Joel CHIANESE, 19.Nicky CARLE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (go), 21.Yairo YAU, 22.Ali ABBAS, 27.Christopher NAUMOFF, 28.Matt THOMPSON, 29.Alec UROSEVSKI, 34. Aaron CALVER
***Two to be omitted***
Ins: 8. Pedj BOJIC (return from suspension), 14. Mitch MALLIA (promoted), 29. Alec UROSEVSKI (promoted)
Outs: 10.Alessandro DEL PIERO (c) (1 week – hamstring)
Unavailable: Rhyan GRANT (knee – season), Peter TRIANTIS (groin – indefinite), Terry ANTONIS (thigh – indefinite), Tiago Calvano (Suspended – 7 matches), Brett EMERTON (1 week – calf)

Matthew Berry

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

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