Mariners Face Tough Test Against Roar

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After a pulsating 2-2 draw against rivals Newcastle last week, the Central Coast Mariners return to Bluetongue Stadium to face the in form Brisbane Roar.

Since the 2011 Grand Final, the Mariners and Roar have been two of the form sides in the seasons, and while their rivalry isn’t as intense as others in the league, both clubs always ensure a quality contest.

The Roar have a great record at Bluetongue Stadium having won 6 out of the last 10 played, however more recently the Mariners have enjoyed a very strong record at home. Their last home loss was against Western Sydney in round 23 last season, which would also be the only time they would taste defeat in Gosford during their Championship year.

The Match:
Graham Arnold enters this fixture with two of his star players away on international duty. Michael McGlinchey and Storm Roux will be in Los Angeles with the NZ All-Whites preparing for their World Cup qualifying playoff with Mexico, causing Arnold to start a changed XI. Dutch recruit Marcel Seip returns to the squad from injury and should partner Zac Anderson in the centre back positions, forcing Trent Sainsbury to cover at right back in Roux’s absence.

Starting as the lone striker last week Mitchell Duke will return to the right wing, with Nick Fitzgerald on the left and Marcos Flores attacking from the centre.

While the Central Coast have lost two key players, they get one back in the form of last season’s Golden Boot winner Daniel McBreen. Arnold now has the headache of where he starts his trio of strikers in McBreen, Mile Sterjovski, and Matt Simon.

The Roar travel south with a depleted squad, with stars Shane Stefanutto, Liam Miller, and Besart Berisha all unavailable due to injury. Late in the week Socceroo Jade North was also ruled out.

Despite this they were able to put three past the Melbourne Heart at Suncorp Stadium last week and arrive in Gosford with the league’s tightest defence in which they have only conceded two goals. However up front, Brisbane has failed to score in four of their last seven away games.

The Key Issue:
Concentration for the full 90 minutes will be a major focus for the Mariners coming in to this fixture. In their four games so far this season, Graham Arnold’s men have conceded 5 goals after half time, most notably the 2 goals each to Melbourne Heart and Newcastle that came shortly after the break. They can’t afford to do the same against the Roar.

For Brisbane, pressure on the Central Coast’s back four will be key. The Mariners gifted Newcastle two goals last week, including Justin Pasfield’s howler. If the Roar can put the Mariner’s number 1 under the pump, they too might find themselves with the early advantage.

The X-Factor:
Justin Pasfield needs a strong performance today in goal for the home side. He will be desperate to make up for his mistake last week, and regain some confidence from Mariners supporters. After the calamity against the Jets, Graham Arnold post match said he wanted a reaction from his number 1, and this game could be a pivotal moment in Pasfield’s season. A solid performance from him today will go a long way to the Mariners chances of winning, if not Arnold could be forced to start reserve keeper Liam Reddy next week.

Prediction:
These two sides should put on a quality performance today despite both clubs missing key players. Daniel McBreen’s return for the home side is a big one as not only can he score goals but he provides the leadership that the Mariners lost through the retirement of Patrick Zwaanswijk. At home against a weakened Brisbane side the Mariners should get their second home win this season in what will be a tight contest.

Mariners 2-1.

Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 10 November 2013
Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Kick-off: 5:00pm local (5:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Ben Williams

Head-to-Head:
Played 36 – Wins: Central Coast 8, Brisbane 17. Draws: 11

Last Time They Met:
March 17, 2013 – Central Coast 1 – 0 Brisbane

Recent Form:
Central Coast: DWDD
Brisbane: WLWW

Matthew Berry

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

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