PREVIEW: Central Coast Mariners v. Wellington Phoenix

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For the first time in over a decade, a professional football match will be held at North Sydney Oval when the Central Coast Mariners host Wellington Phoenix tonight.

The clash is a rescheduled fixture from round 6, where the FFA allowed the match date to be changed due to New Zealand’s World Cup qualifying commitments.

Central Coast head in to the clash coming off the back of their worst performance so far in season 9, a 4-0 loss to Adelaide. The Mariners squandered early chances, with the Reds making them pay with two goals either side of half time. It was Central Coast’s first loss to Adelaide since 2009.

Their opponents tonight, Wellington, last weekend went down to comeptition front-runners Brisbane Roar 2-1 at home. In a repeat of their opening round fixture, Ivan Franjic would be the difference, scoring the winner for the away side.

Ernie Merrick’s side are yet to win a game this season and currently sit in 9th spot on the ladder, with only goal difference separating them and last placed Melbourne Heart.

While the Mariners sit in 6th spot, with a win tonight incredibly important as come Monday they will have played 3 games in 10 days.

Ins & Outs:

Phill Moss took an unchanged line up that defeated Sydney a week earlier to Adelaide, and should have the same XI to face Wellington.

Central Defenders Zac Anderson (injury) and Brent Griffiths (suspended) are both unavailable, while young forward Nick Fitzgerald has been promoted to the 17 man squad.

With Anderson and Griffiths both out, Marcel Seip should again partner Trent Sainsbury in the centre of defence, while youngster Hayden Morton will earn a call up to the bench.

Ernie Merrick has named an 18 man squad to face the Mariners, with the big inclusion being midfielder Leo Bertos. The Kiwi has made 124 appearances for the Phoenix since 2008, and joins Tyler Boyd who’s been promoted for tonight’s match.

Who’s Said What:

Trent Sainsbury (Central Coast defender):

“We came off the pitch (against Adelaide) and we were very disappointed with ourselves, not only with the scoreline but with the way we performed on the pitch.”

“We didn’t put enough pressure on the ball, we went to shut them down but stood two metres off them, our possession of the ball was terrible, and our finishing was terrible.”

“We’re going to go out there against Wellington on Thursday to try and rectify what happened in Adelaide.”

“At the moment I’d say they (Wellington) are a very unlucky Club. They’ve been playing some decent football and the results just haven’t been going their way. We’re hoping that on Thursday the results still won’t go their way and we can get the three points.”

The Key Issue:

Central Coast: How well can the Mariners bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat? They were poor against Adelaide and will be looking for a much improved performance against the Phoenix, in what is shaping as a crucial time for the Mariners this season. They face Western Sydney away on Monday, meaning a win tonight is crucial for Phil Moss’ side to stay in the top 6 of the competition.

Wellington: Records are against the Phoenix tonight, while they haven’t won in their past 10 A-League games, they also haven’t beaten Central Coast in their past 8 matches and have failed to score in the last 3 away. Records are meant to be broken, Adelaide proved that last week, and tonight facing a vulnerable Mariners side, a strong performance could see them earn their first three points of season 9.

The X-Factor:

Carlos Hernandez has provided a welcomed spark for Wellington this season, and could provide the difference for the Phoenix tonight. The Costa Rican who played 120 games for Melbourne Victory before heading to the New Zealand based club provides plenty of options going forward and could cause plenty of headaches for a defensive four lacking confidence.


Phil Moss would have made sure that his side would reflect and move on from last week’s performance as quickly as possible with their focus turning to tonight and earning the three points they desperately need. After heavy defeats, the following week’s effort is often scrutinised more to see what a team is really like. The Mariners will not want a repeat of last week, and a strong showing against Wellington will remind many that last week was a blip on the season so far. A comprehensive victory for the Central Coast tonight, sets them up well for their clash on Monday with the Wanderers.

Mariners 3-1.

Central Coast v Wellington Phoenix
Hyundai A-League 2013/14 Round 6 (Deferred Match)
Thursday 19 December 2013
North Sydney Oval, Sydney
Kick-off: 7.30pm local (7:30pm AEDT)
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones

Played 18. Wins: Central Coast-10, Wellington-5. Draws: 3

February 2, 2013. Blutongue Stadium, Gosford. Central Coast 5 – 0 Wellington

Central Coast: LWDWL
Wellington: DLDLL

Central Coast Squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Marcos FLORES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY (GK), 13. Hayden MORTON, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Anthony CACERES, 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI *one to be omitted*
Ins: 11. Nick FITZGERALD (promoted)
Outs: 6. Brent GRIFFITHS (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: 5. Zachary ANDERSON (back – 1 week), 6. Brent GRIFFITHS (suspended – 1 week), 18. Michael NEILL (suspended – 1 week), 22. Tom Slater (back – 2 weeks), 23. Adam Kwasnik (knee – indefinite)

Wellington Phoenix Squad: 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 5. Michael BOXALL, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 10. Stein HUYSEGEMS, 11. Jeremy BROCKIE, 12. Tyler BOYD, 13. Albert RIERA, 15. Jason HICKS, 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 21. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 22. Andrew DURANTE (capt), 23. Matthew RIDENTON. (two to be omitted).
Ins: 7. Leo BERTOS (promoted), 12. Tyler BOYD (promoted).
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: Nil

Matthew Berry

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

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