Glory, Mariners to square off in make-or-break 'Cup Final'

It's eighth against ninth when Perth Glory entertain Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night and yet there's plenty of intrigue around the nib Stadium encounter.

Neither side can afford to sit back and settle for a point as they seek to salvage their seasons.

The pair enter the potentially defining clash with morale-boosting results behind them, having both collected four points from their last two outings.

And with only one Finals Series spot likely to still be up for grabs, Kenny Lowe and Paul Okon will know this is the chance to deliver a knockout blow.

Harold, Brama
Glory's Chris Harold and Mariners' Wout Brama

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Separated by three points, Saturday night's encounter is effectively a knockout clash in terms of the Finals Series.

 Glory are currently four points off sixth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers and, with Brisbane Roar also in the running, have to make their move.

They appear to have put a poor run of form in the rearview mirror but must still get things close to perfect to still be in contention come Round 27.

That starts with a win against the visiting Mariners, who are themselves not out of the picture.

Their well-earned win over Wellington Phoenix two weeks ago was the team's first since early December and could provide a launching pad.

Despite being ninth, a game in hand means they have the opportunity to make up ground.

Glory, Mariners

 

CASTRO CONCERN

Diego Castro was a late scratching from Glory's trip to Western Sydney last time out after failing to overcome a calf complaint.

It was hoped the former Johnny Warren Medal would start at Spotless Stadium, only for him to pull out altogether in the warm-up.

Chris Harold looms as a potential replacement after recovering from a quad injury.

The agile winger has scored four times against the Mariners and netted a brace at Brisbane Roar shortly before his injury.

But regardless of the other available options, there is no easy way to compensate for Castro's absence.

The sublime Spaniard has the intelligence and guile to unlock any team in the Hyundai A-League and could spark a late surge up the ladder.

Will he be fit to help make that a reality?

Diego Castro
Diego Castro