It’s sixth against eighth in the Hyundai A-League on Sunday as the red-hot Melbourne City FC head to the NSW Central Coast to face the battling Mariners. With Robert Koren, Damien Duff and Aaron Mooy in scintillating form for the visitors, Central Coast have a huge challenge ahead. Should be a doozy.
Sunday, 4 January 2015
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-Off: 5pm (Local) (5pm AEDST)
Central Coast Mariners 1. Matt NASH (Gk), 2. Storm ROUX, 3. Josh ROSE, 4. Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5. Zac ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Anthony CACERES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 15. Matt SIM, 16. Liam ROSE, 17. Richard VERNES, 18. Glen TRIFIRO, 19. Matt SIMON, 23. Isaka CERNAK, 25. Eddy BOSNAR
*two to be omitted*
Ins 8. Nick MONTGOMERY (returns from injury), 16. Liam ROSE (promoted)
Unavailable 6. Brent GRIFFITHS (injury – indefinite), 21. Michael Neill (injury – indefinite)
Melbourne City 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3.Robbie WIELAERT, 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 10.Robert KOREN, 11.Damien DUFF, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 14.James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Benjamin GARUCCIO, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (C), 27, Ross ARCHBALD
***one to be omitted***
Ins 13.Jonatan GERMANO (returns from injury), 18.Paulo RETRE (promoted)
Outs 25.Jacob MELLING (suspended, accumulation – 1 week)
Unavailable 8.Massimo MURDOCCA (ankle – 1 week), 17.Jason HOFFMAN (back strain – 1-2 weeks)
TV – Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio – 92.5 ABC Central Coast, 774 ABC Melbourne, Local Radio VIC, Grandstand Digital, Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app
Referee Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1 Allyson Flynn
Assistant Referee 2 Jonathan Barreiro
Fourth Official Adam Gehrig
Fatigue could work against the Mariners in this one, backing up less than three days after their stalemate with Western Sydney Wanderers FC. If any side can exploit signs of tiredness at the moment it’s the in-form City, who are on a four-game unbeaten run and appear to have found their mojo in front of goal.
If the first meeting between these two sides this season is anything to go by then this will be an absolute cracker, with the Mariners scoring twice inside the last 10 minutes – including a stoppage time rocket from skipper John Hutchinson – to snatch a 2-2 draw. If the Mariners have designs on making the finals then this is a game they must win. City currently occupy the last spot in the top six, seven points ahead of the hosts with a game in hand and another three points for John van‘t Schip’s side here would give Central Coast a mountain to climb after the Asian Cup break.
Midfielder Nick Montgomery returns from a calf injury for the Mariners and Phil Moss might throw him right in, especially as they are backing less than 72 hours since their last match. Richard Vernes and Glen Trifiro will also be pushing for starting berths in the attacking positions.
City will be forced into one change with Jacob Melling suspended. Robert Koren might shift into a deeper role despite scoring as hat-trick playing in a more advanced position last time out. If that was the case then David Williams or Mate Dugandzic would come into the starting line-up.
ROUTE TO GOAL
City’s stable of stars is beginning to hit its straps, with imports Koren and Damien Duff firing in the front third, with Socceroos midfielder Aaron Mooy pushing up from behind. Then there’s the pace and directness of the likes of Williams, Dugandzic and Iain Ramsay off the bench. Quite simply van ‘t Schip has options everywhere. If they can get their defensive lapses sorted out, City is a dangerous proposition for anyone.
The Mariners have relied a lot on the power and persistence of Matt Simon for the attacking thrust, but he can’t do it alone. Mitchell Duke offers good support but Nick Fitzgerald, Anthony Caceres and Matt Sim need to provide more cutting edge if the Mariners are to add to their miserly 10 goals for the season.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Robert Koren. The Slovenian international showed just what kind of impact he can have on the Hyundai A-League with a classy hat-trick in his first start for City.
Central Coast’s winless run extended to 12 games following their 0-0 draw with the Wanderers on New Year’s Day. The Mariners have drawn their last two matches though and appear to have a more settled team and structure over the last month. It’s been four games without defeat since Melbourne City’s 5-1 drubbing against Phoenix last month. Their last outing was their most impressive, a 5-2 thrashing of Newcastle just up the road from this clash at Hunter Stadium.
DID YOU KNOW?
Melbourne City FC has won just two of their last eight games on the road and have conceded five goals in two of their last four away matches.
Central Coast Mariners 1-3 Melbourne City
Current form and their wealth of attacking options would suggest the visitors are almost sure things in this one. City are in a confident mood and if they are serious about being a title contender come May, then this is a clash they should win. With Central Coast’s home form being surprisingly poor so far this campaign and with a short turnaround from their last match, a comfortable win for City looks the best prediction here.