Hyundai A-League preview: Mariners v Jets

​Can Newcastle make the six? A daft question a month ago but with seven points from nine, hope has been rekindled in Newy. But Garcia's Mariners would love to dent their local rivals' dreams on derby day. Should be a ripper in Gosford.

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MATCH DETAILS

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (5:00 PM (AEDT))

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 4.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 1233 ABC Newcastle, 92.5 ABC Central Coast, ABC 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 #CCMvNEW

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c) 10.Luis GARCIA, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Alastair BRAY (gk), 14.Daniel HEFFERNAN, 15.Brad McDONALD, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Francesco STELLA, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 23.Tomislav USKOK, 25.Adam BERRY, 28.Matthew FLETCHER

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 10.Luis GARCIA (return from injury), 14.Daniel HEFFERNAN (promoted) 17.Francesco STELLA (promoted), 22.Jake McGING (return from injury), 28.Matthew FLETCHER (promoted)

Luis Garcia is set to start his first match for the Mariners this weekend.

Outs: 2.Storm ROUX (fractured fibula – season), 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (suspended – 1 week), 7.Fabio FERREIRA (suspended - 1 week)

Unavailable: 9.Roy O’DONOVAN (suspended – 1 week)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Mark BIRIGHITTI (Gk), 2. Daniel MULLEN, 3. Jason HOFFMAN, 4. Nigel BOOGAARD (C), 5. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6. Cameron WATSON, 7. Enver ALIVODIC, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 9. Milos TRIFUNOVIC, 10. LEONARDO, 14. Mitch COOPER, 16. Steven UGARKOVIC, 17. Radovan PAVICEVIC, 19. Morten NORDSTRAND, 20. Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 22. Lachlan JACKSON, 24. Nick COWBURN, 28. Ryan KITTO

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 5. Ben KANTAROVSKI (returns from suspension), 8. Mateo POLJAK (returns from suspension)

Mateo Poljak says the Jets lacked discipline in their 6-1 loss to Perth Glory.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 11. Labinot HALITI (knee – season) 

Referee: Ben Williams

Assistant Referee 1: Allyson Flynn

Assistant Referee 2: Owen Goldrick

Fourth Official: Matthew Cropper

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

If Newcastle continue their late-season play for the finals then the next two weeks will be crucial to their hopes.

After a lengthy mid-season slump, the Jets are dreaming of the top six again after picking up seven points in their last three matches, including last weekend’s 3-2 win over Wellington.

It’s left Scott Miller’s side six points from the top six. And the always feisty F3 Derby is the start of a massive fortnight for the club, with the resurgent Glory awaiting in the next round.

Jets train in Newcastle.

Quite simply, they must win both to play in the finals. If they do manage it the Jets could find themselves right on the tails of both Sydney FC and Victory at the bottom register of the six.

It’s a position the Mariners can only dream of after what’s been a campaign of ups and downs - well, mostly downs as they sit on the bottom of the table.

The boys from Gosford are currently seven points adrift at the foot of the ladder and are coming off the back of a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne City.

They got things right for 45 minutes at AAMI Park last Sunday – leading 1-0 at the break after the exciting Mitch Austin burst through to score – but once things turned, they were unable to stem the flow.

It’s a trait that has become a far too familiar theme this season but at least they can call on their impressive home record against the Jets; unbeaten in their last nine F3 Derby’s at Central Coast Stadium.

Discipline has been an issue for the Mariners this season, with Fabio Ferreira banned for this one after receiving a red card last weekend, the club’s sixth dismissal of the campaign.

Mariners forward Fabio Ferreira is shown a red card at AAMI Park.

Storm Roux’s horror injury sees him also drop out of the side but Luis Garcia is set to return, while Jake McGing could come into the backline on his return from injury. 

Strapping young central defender Tomi Uskok must also be pushing for his first A-League start.

For the Jets, midfielders Mateo Poljak and Ben Kantarovski have been added to the squad after serving one-game bans last weekend. Freshened up, these two could be key on Sunday. 

OPTA DATA

*Central Coast Mariners are undefeated in the last nine F3 Derby’s including a current streak of three wins when hosting the Jets in the Hyundai A-League.

*Newcastle Jets are undefeated in their last three Hyundai A-League matches. A fourth match without loss would equal their longest streak since they went six matches on the bounce without losing in November 2013.

*Mariner Mitchell Austin has made 98 crosses so far this Hyundai A-League season and is poised to become the first player in 2015/16 to make 100.

*The Jets haven’t won an away game since Rd 4 this season, they have since lost four and drawn two on the road in the Hyundai A-League.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Marquee man Garcia was left out last weekend with an eye on this game so expect him to be fresh and firing on Sunday.

The Mariners don’t only need his creative flair in the front third but also his experience and composure on the ball, especially when they are on the back-foot in a match.

Garcia was deployed in a false nine role in his last appearance but he really needs a striker in front of him to have an impact and avoid being isolated.

Mariners star Luis Garcia on the ball during his side's 4-0 loss to Brisbane Roar.

Josh Bingham has performed well in attack in recent weeks but you get the feeling he will be even more dangerous with the Spaniard feeding him.

The absence of Ferreira does rob the Mariners of some x-factor but Mitch Austin’s pace is almost unplayable at times and is one avenue they must use. How good was his goal against City!

For the Jets, the goals are suddenly flying in. It’s now seven scored in the last three weeks.

And with Central Coast’s woes at the back, you wouldn’t bet against them racking up a few more.

Especially with Nordstrand and Leonardo in the form they are right now. The pair have played only a handful of games together but their understanding and link-up play has blossomed so quickly.

Newcastle's Danish striker Morten Nordstrand celebrates one of his two goals against Wellington in Round 20.

Nordstrand showed a great ability to not only finish with aplomb but his dribbling and capacity to beat the first defender is excellent.

Leonardo is relishing the free reign Miller appears to have given him and it makes the Brazilian hard to pick up. If the Mariners don’t, they could be in for a long afternoon on the Coast.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Morten Nordstrand. The deadly Dane marked his starting debut last weekend with a wonderful individual display and a match-winning brace. He’ll love getting at a Mariners defence which hasn’t kept a clean sheet yet this season.

FORM LINES

Mariners: LWLLL

Jets: LLWDW

PREDICTION 

Central Coast Mariners 1-3 Newcastle Jets