Hyundai A-League preview: City v Mariners

After last week's shock loss in Adelaide, Melbourne City will hope to avoid a rare double when Central Coast Mariners visit - losing to the Hyundai A-League's bottom-placed side two weeks in a row.

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MATCH DETAILS

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Melbourne City FC v Central Coast Mariners

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off:  7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))

Referee:  Daniel Elder

Assistant Referee 1:  George Lakrindis

Assistant Referee 2:  Luke Brennan

Fourth Official:  Jonathan Barreiro

TV Broadcast:  Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport Pop-Up (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast:  ABC Online and via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-League Live, 1116 SEN (Melbourne), Coast FM 96.3

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvCCM

To purchase tickets visit  www.aleague.com.au

Melbourne City FC squad:  1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Fernando BRANDAN

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  8.Neil KILKENNY (returns from suspension), 12.Nick FITZGERALD (promoted)

Melbourne City players celebrate Nick Fitzgerald's goal against the Phoenix in Round 8.

Outs:  Nil

Unavailable:  7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season)

Central Coast Mariners  squad:  1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Blake POWELL, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 25.Ryan PETERSON

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  17.Josh BINGHAM (promoted), 25.Ryan PETERSON (promoted)

Josh Bingham in action against the Victory.

Outs:  Nil

Unavailable:  10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle – 1 week), 19.Jacques FATY (hamstring – 1 week), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

Mariners coach Paul Okon reckons it would be "foolish" to read too much into City's 2-1 loss to Adelaide United last week but Central Coast should take confidence out of that result.

The Gosford-based club will arrive at AAMI Park in last spot in the Hyundai A-League table but Adelaide were in the same position last week when they stunned City to register just their second win of the campaign.

Central Coast could move above the Reds again with a draw - the same result as they managed at home on New Year's Eve when City needed a 90th-minute penalty from Bruno Fornaroli to avoid defeat.

The Mariners celebrate Trent Buhagier's equaliser against City in Gosford.

While Okon still rates City as genuine A-League contenders, it's hard to avoid the sense Fornaroli and Co. are struggling.

City have won just one of their seven A-League matches since they lifted the Westfield FFA Cup in November and have scored just three second-half goals during that period.

In fact, City have scored just four goals in the final half hour of matches this season - the least in the A-League - and only Perth Glory (12) and Western Sydney Wanderers (11) have conceded more in the same period than the Bundoora-based club (10).

Those statistics must be cause for concern for interim coach Michael Valkanis.

City will have key midfielder Neil Kilkenny back from suspension for the visit of the Mariners, while Central Coast are unlikely to make any changes.

Neil Kilkenny will return for Melbourne City after missing last week through suspension.

The Mariners will be aiming to end a seven-match winless streak that has included six draws - a far cry from their promising November when Central Coast picked up seven points from four matches and briefly entered the A-League's top six.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Last season City scored at a rate of 2.28 goals per game and conceded 1.66 goals per game.

In 2016/17, they have tightened up their defence to concede 1.33 goals per game but their attacking output has also dropped to 1.6 goals per game - simply put Valkanis' side doesn't have much room for error.

While Fornaroli has generally maintained his impressive standards, City need more goals from the likes of Fernando Brandan (3), Nicolas Colazo (1) and Bruce Kamau (0).

Bruno Fornaroli (City) - Two class finishes, his second in particular, further proof – if we needed – that "El Tuna" really is something quite special.

Central Coast's main issue is in defence with the Mariners having conceded more goals (32) than any other team this season for a goal difference of -16.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Dean Bouzanis. Having become City's number one goalkeeper this season, the 26-year-old signed a contract extension on Tuesday to stay at the club until the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

FORM LINES

Melbourne City: LDDWL

Central Coast Mariners: LLDLL

PREDICTION

Melbourne City 2-1 Central Coast Mariners