Central Coast Mariners boss Phil Moss believes his team are edging closer to a complete performance following a dominant last start victory over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.
The Mariners mentor was delighted with his side’s defensive structure, transitions and build up play against the Sky Blues, but admits his men must be more clinical infront of goal when they take on northern foes Newcastle Jets in the 31st edition of the F3 Derby in Gosford this Saturday.
“We’ve had good results over the last few weeks, securing four points from a possible six at two very tough venues away from home,” Moss said. “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,” he said.
While the Mariners have only lost one fixture at its idyllic bayside base this campaign, the team has yet to truly outclass a rival on the banks of the Brisbane Water throughout its Hyundai A-League Championship defence.
Moss would like nothing more than for the Mariners’ most polished performance of the campaign thus far to come against the Jets.
Moss will take charge of the Mariners in the regional rivalry for the first time, while his former Northern Spirit teammate and good friend, Clayton Zane, will sit in the hot seat for the Novocastrians.
Even when he wasn’t directly involved with the yellow and navy, Moss admits F3 Derby matches were encounters that got his blood pumping as a football fan.
“You always get fantastic crowds and a great atmosphere when Central Coast play Newcastle,” he said. “There is a fierce tribalism between the two clubs and the two sets of supporters.”
“The F3 Derby is a game that everyone wants to be involved in, and there is without doubt a little bit of extra feeling in these games.”
“But I do tend to think that form does count in these games. If you’re in good form and you can win the battle then the momentum that you carry into the game can get you through.”
“I know that our players are really looking forward to the challenge, and Newcastle have gone through a bit of turmoil this week with Gary (van Egmond) moving out and ‘Clacka’ (Clayton Zane) moving in to take charge, so I am sure all their players will be very keen to impress their new boss.”
“That’s something we have to be aware of, but we are just worrying about what we’re doing and certainly what we’ve done the last two or three weeks has been very, very encouraging.”
“We’re at home and we were very disappointed with our showing last time we were at Bluetongue – we pride ourselves on Bluetongue being a fortress and in particular against our local rivals in the F3 Derby.”
“I’ll be out to make it as uncomfortable as possible for Clayton’s debut as coach, but I’ll shake his hand and give him a bit of a bear hug after the game!” he said.
Despite some fans and media beginning to label the match the M1 Derby due to the recent name change of the stretch of bitumen separating the Central Coast and Newcastle, Moss contends that for the sake of maintaining the rivalry between the Clubs and developing history and stories throughout the Hyundai A-League, the F3 Derby tag must remain associated with the classic conflict.
“I know our staff met with the Jets and Football Federation Australia last year and everyone agreed that the F3 Derby name should stay,” Moss said.
“As far as I am concerned it will always be the F3 Derby – that’s what it started as nine years ago and that’s what I still look at it as. I know the supporters feel the same and certainly the players do.”
“I am sure our fans can create a hostile atmosphere for Newcastle on Saturday night, and no doubt the fantastic support that we’ve been getting this year will get the boys over the line.”