Culina: Form means nothing

Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina has said that form counts for nothing ahead of their crucial F3 derby clash against the Central Coast Mariners at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Wednesday night.

Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina has said that form counts for nothing ahead of their crucial F3 derby clash against the Central Coast Mariners at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Jets go into the match in the best form of the season after a week that saw them register an impressive win over Adelaide United, a spirited draw against the high-flying Brisbane Roar and a convincing 1-0 victory over Wellington last Saturday night.

The results have lifted the Jets off the bottom of the table and catapulted them into seventh place, just one win behind the Melbourne Victory.

The Mariners are also in fine form this season and deserve their place in the top four but will be stinging from their 3-2 loss at home to the Gold Coast last weekend.

"The form really goes out the window," Culina said.

"It will be a good test for us because they're one of the form sides."

"They've got some excellent players and they probably don't get the recognition they deserve."

Last year the Central Coast side beat the Jets in two of their three derby matches. The Jets were 2-1 victors at home when the Mariners were on a winning streak and then at the end of the season when the Jets were finals-bound, the Central Coast broke their own form slump with a resounding 3-0 win over their F3 neighbour.

"They are always very combative and very competitive as well and they've got some better players than people give them credit for," Culina said.

"It is going to be a tough game, particularly the fact that it's a derby and derbies are always close calls."

"I think they're a very good side, I think Graham (Arnold) has got them playing good football."

And while the Jets' form is impressive of late Culina was hesitant to label them as the 'form side' of the competition right now.

"Its early days, we're not going to go there yet. We need more consistency; we need to do it week in, week out," he said.

"Ask me that question on Wednesday night and we may be a little bit closer to it."

The Jest will be boosted by the return of inspirational skipper Ljubo Milicevic and key midfielder Ruben Zadkovich, while defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley is likely to be replaced by star rookie Taylor Regan after limping off during Saturday night's win over the Phoenix with a knee injury.

"I thought Taylor Regan was absolutely superb (against Wellington," Culina said.

"He did not put a foot wrong all game.

"When Nikolai went off he took the responsibility of marshalling the troops and you would not think this is a kid playing in just his third game; you would have thought he had been playing 300 games."

"He has such a level head and a good football career ahead, I have the utmost confidence in him."