Local bragging rights and a chance to avoid the wooden spoon make this a high-stakes F3 Derby when Central Coast host arch-rivals Newcastle in Gosford on Sunday.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-Off: 5:00PM (Local) (5:00PM (AEST))
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referee 1: Ryan Gallagher
Assistant Referee 2: Scott Edeling
Fourth Official: Ben Abraham
Video Assistant Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 4.30pm (AEST) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Coast FM 96.3
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #F3Derby
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX (c), 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 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, 26.Steve WHYTE, 27.Lachlan WALES **two to be omitted**
Ins: 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (return from suspension), 27.Lachlan WALES (promoted)
Unavailable: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (quad – 1 week), 6.Blake POWELL (knee – 3 weeks), 10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle – indefinite), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)
Newcastle Jets squad: 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 11.Labinot HALITI, 12.Harrison SAWYER, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk) **two to be omitted**
Ins: 9.Aleksandr KOKKO (promoted), 13.Ivan VUJICA (returns from injury), 28.John KOUTROUMBIS (returns from injury)
Outs: 10.Wayne BROWN (suspended – 1 match)
Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (achilles – season), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season)
How quickly things can change in football.
Just six weeks ago both these sides were right in the mix for an unlikely shot at making the top six.
Fast-forward to Round 26 - the penultimate round of the season - and an F3 Derby which could have been a shootout for sixth-spot, has now suddenly turned into a battle to avoid bottom rung on the ladder.
And while Central Coast (10th) and Newcastle (9th) have impressed in patches throughout the campaign, their respective ladder positions are indicative of what most judges would have anticipated prior to the season.
But with two matches left and pride well and truly on the line, there remains plenty to play for in Gosford on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides come into this clash on the back of heavy defeats with the Mariners copping a 5-1 hammering against the Roar while Newcastle fell to a 3-0 loss at home to the Wanderers.
And a closer look at the form guide doesn’t make for pretty reading for either team.
The Mariners and Jets have each lost four in a row with Mark Jones’ side having won just one from their past 10 matches while Paul Okon's men are winless in six matches.
And while goals have been flowing consistently for both sides in the attacking third, it’s the other end of the field where the problems have existed.
Central Coast (51 goals) and Newcastle (49 goals) are the league’s worst two defensive sides and there is little to suggest that will change this weekend.
Should be a nervy, tense afternoon in Gosford.
* Newcastle Jets are undefeated in their last seven F3 Derbies, though five of those games have ended in a draw (W2).
* The Mariners have conceded three or more goals in 10 of their last 25 games at home.
* The Jets have won the last two F3 Derbies held at Central Coast Stadium after having won just one of the 15 games at the venue.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Attacker Fabio Ferreira has been a revelation for the Mariners since moving into an unfamiliar central role and gave Paul Okon’s side a shock lead against the Roar with a long-range cracker last weekend.
The Portuguese flyer has thrived in behind Irish striker Roy O’Donovan and will again be one of the hosts’ main threats, especially in transition.
O’Donovan (13 goals) continues to toil manfully up front and remains Central Coast’s most dangerous outlet.
The former EPL striker has been linked to a move to Newcastle next season and could be fired up for a big game in front of his potential new employers.
Speedsters Kwabena Appiah and Connor Pain have been quiet in recent weeks and need to improve their output if the Mariners are to be a chance.
For Newcastle, three-straight games without a goal could force Mark Jones into a reshuffle.
A public spat with winger Andrew Hoole last weekend could result in one change, with Finn Aleksandr Kokko a chance to return to the Jets’ starting line-up.
Striker Morten Nordstrand continues to look Newcastle’s most dangerous outlet and the Dane will fancy his chances having netted three times in his last three matches against Central Coast.
Andrew Nabbout has been out of sorts over the past month after an electric first half of the season but he's capable of providing a much-needed spark.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Storm Roux. The experienced Kiwi defender extended his contract with the Yellow and Navy for a further two seasons.
FORM LINES (last five games)
Central Coast Mariners: DLLLL
Newcastle Jets: DLLLL
Central Coast 2 Newcastle Jets 1