Mariners Look To Get Back On Track

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The Central Coast Mariners kick off round 20 as they return to Bluetongue Stadium tonight to take on Wellington Phoenix.

The Mariners currently sit fifth, with three consecutive defeats to Brisbane, Melbourne Victory, and Adelaide. A win tonight is vital for the Central Coast who need to now cement their spot in the top 6.

Wellington are coming off an embarrassing loss at home to Melbourne Heart in which they lost 5-0, in a result that not many would have seen coming. After hitting a purple patch at the turn of the new year, Wellington have since stuttered along, and a win tonight could be the catalyst for a late season surge to the finals.

The sides have already met twice this season with a win (Mariners 1-0) and draw (1-1) the results so far. Tonight provides an interesting contest between two clubs that are struggling for form and are desperate for three points.

Ins & Outs:

Phil Moss has named a 17 man squad to take on the Phoenix with suspension keeping out three starting players.

Josh Rose, Matt Simon, and Nick Fitzgerald will all miss the clash, thus allowing new signings Matt Sim, Glen Trifiro, and Isaka Cernak to be included.

South Korean star Kim Seung-Yong is set to be included in the starting XI after coming off the bench last week in his first game for his new club.

Ernie Merrick has named an 18 man squad with Josh Brindell-South earning promotion while Roy Krishna returns from injury.

The Stats:

- Central Coast Mariners are unbeaten in their last 10 Hyundai A-League matches against Wellington Phoenix (W8 D2).

- Central Coast Mariners have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four home games against the ‘Nix.

- There have been 21 goals scored in the last five matches involving the New Zealanders.

- Carlos Hernandez has had a hand in more goals than any other Hyundai A-League player so far this campaign (13 – five goals, eight assists).

The Key Issues:

Central Coast: The Mariners need to find some form and find it fast. Three consecutive losses haven’t been seen at the Central Coast for a long time and the players and coaching staff will be keen to ensure it doesn’t become four straight. More alarmingly the Mariners need to score more often having only scored 4 goals in their last 5 games, while they haven’t scored more than two goals in a game all season. In the subsequent fixture last season, the Mariners won 5-0 in a result that is much needed tonight. The likelihood of that though, is very slim.

Wellington: After coming off a 5-0 defeat last week, players, staff, and supporters will be looking for a response, and the opportunity for a positive response doesn’t come much better than the vulnerable Mariners. While trips to Gosford have always been tough for the Phoenix, their opponents are there for the taking. A quick snatch-and-grab of three points could be perfect for Wellington, proving last week was a blip, and allowing for more pressure and questions to be asked of the reigning champions.

The X-Factor:

Zac Anderson needs to stand up and be counted and he needs to do it tonight. Anderson will be the most capped Mariner in the back four, and despite Eddy Bosner having age and experience, Anderson has been a member of the Central Coast program longer than his partners at the back. Anderson can become a very good defender, and a great leader not only in defence but for the Mariners as a whole. Tonight provides a wonderful opportunity for him to show those attributes. Central Coast has conceded 8 goals in their last three defeats, making a clean sheet tonight vital.

Prediction:

Both sides need a win, more so the home side, making this evening’s fixture an interesting one despite the both side’s form of late. Kim Seung-Yong will start and he could provide the difference early for the Mariners who need to come out firing, apply pressure to the Phoenix and take control of the match early. I believe they will do so. It’s hard to go past a Central Coast victory tonight.

Central Coast 2-0.

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix
Friday, 21 February 2014
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-off: 7.30pm local (7:30pm AEDT)
Referee: Alan Milliner
Assistant Referee 1: Ashley Beecham
Assistant Referee 2: Leigh Pigram
Fourth Official: Tim McGilchrist
#CCMvWEL

Head-To-Head:
Played 22 – Wins: Mariners 12, Phoenix 6. Draws: 4

Last Time They Met:
January 12, 2014. Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Wellington 1 – 1 Central Coast

Form (past five matches):
Mariners: LLLWW
Phoenix: LWWLW

Central Coast Mariners FC Squad: 1.Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 4.Marcel SEIP, 5.Zachary ANDERSON, 7.John HUTCHINSON (C), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 9.Mitchell DUKE, 12.Liam REDDY (Gk), 15.Storm ROUX, 17.Anthony CACERES, 20.Bernie IBINI, 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 22.Tom SLATER, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Kim Seung-yong, 27.Isaka CERNAK, 28.Glen TRIFIRO, 29.Matt SIM
**one to be omitted**
Ins: 22.Tom SLATER (promoted) , 27.Isaka CERNAK (promoted) , 28.Glen TRIFIRO, 29.Matt SIM (promoted)
Outs: 3.Joshua ROSE (suspended – 1 week), 11.Nick FITZGERALD (suspended – 1 week), 19.Matt Simon (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: 10.Marcos FLORES (knee – season), 14.Michael MCGLINCHEY (on loan – Vegalta Sendai), 18.Michael NEILL (knee – season), 23.Adam KWASNIK (knee – season)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Reece CAIRA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 6.Josh BRINDELL-SOUTH, 9.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 10.Stein HUYSEGEMS, 11.Jeremy BROCKIE, 12.Tyler BOYD, 15.Jason HICKS, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Hamish WATSON, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 24.Roy KRISHNA.
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 6.Josh BRINDELL-SOUTH (promoted), 24.Roy KRISHNA (returns from injury)..
Outs: Nil.
Unavailable: 7.Leo Bertos (groin injury 2-3 weeks), 8.Paul Ifill (ruptured Achilles, season), 13.Albert Riera (groin injury 4-5 weeks), 16.Louis Fenton (shoulder injury, season).

Matthew Berry

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

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