The Luis Garcia-inspired Central Coast Mariners ended a win-less run on the road last weekend but face another test away against a resurgent Brisbane Roar who are chasing top spot in the Hyundai A-League.
Saturday, 6 February 2016
Brisbane Roar FC v Central Coast Mariners
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-Off: 4:15 PM (Local) (5:15 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Matthew Conger
Assistant Referee 1: Nathan MacDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Anton Shchetinin
Fourth Official: Alex King
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 612 ABC Brisbane, 92.5 ABC Central Coast, ABC Local Radio Qld, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Coast FM 96.3 (Central Coast)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #BRIvCCM
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 5.Corey BROWN, 7.CORONA, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.HENRIQUE, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Devante CLUT, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 18.Javier HERVAS, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Shane STEFANUTTO (return from injury), 16.Devante CLUT (promoted)
Unavailable: 6.Jerome POLENZ (quadriceps – 8 weeks), 11.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (quadriceps – 5 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (GK), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 10.Luis GARCIA, 13.Alastair BRAY (GK) 15.Brad McDONALD, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Francesco STELLA, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 23.Tomislav USKOK, 28.Matthew FLETCHER
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Harry ASCROFT (return from suspension), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c) (return from suspension), 13.Alastair BRAY (GK) (return from injury), 23.Tomislav USKOK (promoted)
Outs: 12.Trent BUHAGIAR (not selected), 40.Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK) (not selected)
Unavailable: Roy O’DONOVAN (suspended – 4 matches)
Both sides head into this clash in identical form with two wins and a draw from their last five matches, with both winning 3-1 away from home last weekend.
Roar were impressive in out-classing Sydney FC on Saturday night and look a different side with their Olyroo contingent back in the line-up.
Jamie Maclaren resumed where he left-off before the Olympic qualifiers, scoring a brace while James Donachie’s composure and organisation in defence helped plug a few holes at Allianz.
The result has John Aloisi’s side in outright second spot and just two points behind leaders the Wanderers and right in the thick of the race for the Premiership.
While most experts are talking up the prospects of the Wanderers and Melbourne clubs City and Victory, Roar have been somewhat under the radar of late and that will suit them just fine.
But if they are serious contenders, they will be expected to take care of the Mariners at Suncorp.
Central Coast will make the trip north in a much better frame of mind though after their drought-breaking away win against Phoenix last weekend.
Luis Garcia was the catalyst with a telling impact off the bench, including a classy back-heel goal to open the scoring in Christchurch.
Will this be the game coach Tony Walmsley picks his marquee man from the start for the first time?
While finals football is a long shot for the Mariners, they can get themselves off the foot of the ladder with a few more wins.
Skipper Nick Montgomery and defender Harry Ascroft return from suspension to boost the Mariners, while Shane Stefanutto’s is Roar’s big inclusion.
*Brisbane Roar have won their last four matches against the Mariners, a fifth straight win would equal their longest streak against a single club in the Hyundai A-League (5 v Perth, Wellington).
*After a win away to Wellington, the Mariners will be hunting for consecutive away victories in the Hyundai A-League for the first time since November 2012.
*Brisbane has scored eight goals in their last two home matches against the Mariners, conceding only two in the process.
*This match pits the team to have made the most fouls in the Hyundai A-League this season (Central Coast Mariners – 287) against the team to have made the fewest (Brisbane Roar – 217).
ROUTE TO GOAL
It’s no coincidence Roar’s mojo in front of goal returned last weekend with their Olyroo spearheads Maclaren and Borrello back in the lineup.
Maclaren’s brace against the Sky Blues means the pair have contributed 14 (Maclaren 9, Borrello 5) of the side’s 26 goals this season.
But it’s more than just their goals which makes them vital to Brisbane’s attacking game.
Without their pace and movement, Roar’s attack can be very one-dimensional.
The pair’s speed means opposition defences are often in two minds whether to push up and leave space in behind – or sit deep and give playmakers Broich, McKay and Corona more time on the ball.
And with “super sub” Henrique in reserve off the bench now, there is never any respite for opponents.
Ominously for the Mariners as well, Broich had his most influential game of the campaign last weekend and may be reaching top form for the run into the finals.
The Mariners attack has been hot and cold this season but there’s no doubt Garcia’s arrival gives them more punch.
His team-mates feel comfortable whenever the 37-year-old is on the ball and once they can better read where he needs them to be, Central Coast will be more lethal in the front third.
Josh Bingham will be key if Garcia does start, needing to do a lot of Garcia’s defensive work when not in possession to allow him to have the energy to produce when the Mariners have the ball.
And with Roar likely to dominate possession in this one, the speed of wingers Ferreira and Austin on the counter-attack will be vital for the visitors.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Luis Garcia. The Spanish great came off the bench and inspired the Mariners to a 3-1 win last time out with a goal and two assists. Will Walmsley unleash the ex-Liverpool star from the start at Suncorp? Either way, just having the ex-Liverpool legend on the park is reason enough to see this clash.