Mariners Focus On Shoring Up Top Four Spot

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Round 16 sees the 31st edition of the A-League’s original derby as the Central Coast Mariners host the Newcastle Jets at Bluetongue Stadium.

It’s the second meeting between both sides this season, with the reigning champions coming from two goals down to earn a point at Hunter Stadium in round 4.

Since then the Mariners have climbed to maintain a spot in the top 4 (currently third) while the Jets haven’t won in their last 4 fixtures and currently sit in 7th spot on the ladder.

They became the first side to lose to the Melbourne Heart last week (after Heart’s consecutive run of 19 games without a victory) which saw head coach Gary Van Egmond shown the door on the Monday. Youth coach Clayton Zane has stepped in for the interim.

This fixture always provides plenty, and while not having the same notoriety as other derbies in the league, both sets of fans hate each other, which means both teams give that extra bit to keep their end of the F3 with the bragging rights.

Ins & Outs:

Phil Moss has named an 18 man squad for the derby with the main inclusion being that of captain John Hutchinson, who returns from suspension.

In his absence last week against Sydney FC, Anthony Caceras stepped in and performed well in rare game time for the young midfielder. With Hutchinson’s usual partner Nick Montgomery wearing the arm band, and playing a near perfect performance, many Mariners fans are questioning whether Hutchinson deserves automatic inclusion back in the starting XI.

In his first match in charge of the Jets first team, Clayton Zane has too named an 18 man squad for the trip down the freeway. Ben Kantarovski will be missed due to suspension; however Newcastle will be buoyed by the return of Adam Taggart and Josh Brillante who have been away with the Australian under 22s side.

Who’s Said What:

Phil Moss (Mariners head coach):

“We’ve gained momentum by going to Wellington and getting a good result, going to Sydney and getting three points and creating as many chances as we did.”

“But the one area of our game that we’re really looking for improvement in is infront of goal – we need to be a lot more clinical. I thought we were fantastic defensively from front to back on the weekend, but certainly infront of goal we need to take our chances and really nail teams when we get the opportunity.”

“We’re certainly going into this match with a lot of confidence out of the Sydney game, and I think we did a lot of very, very good things down at Allianz last weekend. It’s something that we want to expand on this week.”

“It’s time to come home and put on a strong performance for the fans – we’re really fired up for this one”

Ruben Zadkovich (Jets captain):

“I think its brilliant, it augers well for a very entertaining game. I think the players are going to have a lot to play for, Clayton’s going to be pretty excited and the club too.”

“It’s not hard to get up for a derby so it should be a good game.”

(On Zane’s first week at training as interim coach) “It was very bright, very positive, it was a little bit of a refreshing change at training, something different, and Clayton brings a calmness and coolness to the job and it was a really good session”

“He wants to strip things back, go back to basics and simplify the game plan a little bit. I think that will bring back a little bit of confidence to the team and individuals.”

The Stats:
• Central Coast are currently undefeated in their past 4 matches
• The last time Newcastle won in Gosford was over 5 years ago in 2008.
• Newcastle have not had a win in their past 4 matches.

The Key Issues:

Central Coast: Can the Mariners overcome their yips in front of goal and score more often with the opportunities they create? Countless times this season Central Coast have had only themselves to blame for not killing teams off earlier and having to either chase games or not play as comfortably as they weren’t searching for goals. Phil Moss is eager for a more clinical showing in the front third; can his side deliver against their biggest rivals in front of a big home crowd?

Newcastle: Life after GVE, what does it hold for the Jets? Coming off an embarrassing loss to a team that hadn’t won in 19, Newcastle are keen to put a tumultuous week behind them with a win over the side they defeated in the 2008 grand final. With a new coach comes a new positivity, can Zane be the pilot that gets the Jets off the ground?

The X-Factor:

Zac Anderson has had an up and down season so far, with the young defender starting the season as Trent Sainsbury’s partner in the middle of defence. He was dropped when Moss took over, yet he has now found himself back in the starting XI and looks a lot more settled with each performance. It’s a tough ask to fill Patrick Zwaanswijk’s shoes, but Anderson has relished the opportunity that this challenge presents. Look for another strong performance from the 22 year old in the derby, as he aims to be a key part of a strong Mariners back four.

Prediction:

While Newcastle have the likes of Taggart and Brillante returning, and there will be a new found fire burning that a coaching change provides, it’s hard to go against the Mariners on Saturday night. Central Coast has been impressive in recent weeks, and I believe if they can take their opportunities, it could be raining goals for the home side. In what is always an entertaining fixture, it will be the Squadron travelling home disappointed, with Mariners shoring up their position in the top 4.

Central Coast 2-0

Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets
Saturday, 25 January 2014
Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Kick-off: 7:45pm local (7:45pm AEDT)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
#F3Derby

Head-To-Head:
Played 30. Wins: Mariners 10, Jets 19. Draws: 11.

Last Time They Met:
Round 4, Hunter Stadium, Newcastle. Jets 2 – 2 Mariners

Recent Form:
Central Coast: WDDWL
Newcastle: LDLLW

Central Coast Mariners Squad: 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, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (Gk), 13.Hayden MORTON, 15.Storm ROUX, 16.Trent SAINSBURY, 17.Anthony CACERES, 19.Matt SIMON, 20.Bernie IBINI, 21.Mile STERJOVSKI
*two to be omitted*
Ins: 7.John HUTCHINSON (C) (returns from suspension), 13.Hayden MORTON (promoted)
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: 10.Marcos FLORES (knee – season), 14.Michael MCGLINCHEY (on loan – Vegalta Sendai), 18.Michael NEILL (knee – season), 23.Adam KWASNIK (knee – season)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 3.Taylor REGAN, 4.Kew JALIENS, 6.Zenon CARAVELLA, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH (c), 9.Emile HESKEY, 11.Craig GOODWIN, 13.Joey GIBBS, 15.Josh BRILLANTE, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 17.James VIRGILI, 18.James BROWN, 19.Michael BRIDGES, 21.Sam GALLAWAY, 20.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 22.Adam TAGGART, 27.Nick WARD
**Two to be omitted**
Ins: 7.Andrew HOOLE (returns from international duty), 15.Josh BRILLANTE (returns from international duty), 22.Adam TAGGART (returns from international duty).
Outs: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (suspension – 1 week).
Unavailable: 2.Scott NEVILLE (knee injury – long term) 25.Mitch COOPER (knee injury – long term). 29. Joel GRIFFITHS (awaiting International Transfer Clearance)

Matthew Berry

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

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