Hyundai A-League preview: Mariners v Victory

It was a six-goal ripper last time these two met. Expect more goals when the Mariners, with striker Roy O'Donovan back after an eight-game ban, host a Victory outfit who played a midweek ACL clash in Osaka.

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Sunday, 6 March 2016

Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

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

Referee: Shaun Evans

Assistant Referee 1: Ryan Gallagher

Assistant Referee 2: James Cleal

Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio Vic, 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 #CCMvMVC

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

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Luis GARCIA, 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, 28.Matthew FLETCHER

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (return from suspension), 7.Fabio FERREIRA (return from suspension), 9.Roy O’Donovan (return from suspension), 17.Francesco STELLA (promoted), 28.Matthew FLETCHER (promoted)

Central Coast Mariners striker Roy O’Donovan.

Outs: 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c) (suspended – 1 week), 12.Trent BUHAGIAR (not selected), 25.Adam BERRY (not selected)

Unavailable: nil

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2. Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Thomas DENG

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Jason GERIA (returns from suspension), 4.Nick ANSELL (promoted), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS (promoted)

Nick Ansell fights for the ball with Connor Pain at a Victory training session.

Outs: 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (suspended – 2 weeks)

Unavailable: 21.Carl VALERI (ill – season)

#CCMvMVC

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

These two played out a 3-3 thriller in their last meeting in Geelong and if this one is half as dramatic it will be a super Sunday on the Coast.

The Mariners have endured a sorry season of results and it continued last weekend as they went down 1-0 to rivals Newcastle Jets in the F3 Derby.

With 10 points between themselves and second-last Wellington Phoenix, the wooden spoon appears on the way to Gosford.

While their proactive approach throughout this season is admirable, three wins from 21 games isn’t good enough in the competitive world of the Hyundai A-League.

Defence has been the Mariners main issue and they broke an unwanted A-League record last weekend, conceding at least one goal in a 23rd straight match.

Things are unlikely to get any better for Tony Walmsley’s side with the champions in town.

Victory has a dominant recent record against Central Coast, unbeaten in the last eight meetings between the two sides.

Besart Berisha

And with the firepower in Victory’s line-up, it’s hard to see the Mariners leaky defence being able to limit the damage.

While there’s 18 points gap between the two clubs on the ladder, interestingly both have only managed to pick up three points from their last five matches.

Victory has also had to contend with a long trip to Japan this week for an Asian Champions League game, in which they drew 1-1 with Gamba Osaka.

In team news, the Mariners have lost skipper Nick Montgomery through suspension but it’s offset by the return of winger Fabio Ferreira and striker Roy O’Donovan, who is back from his ban.

Victory are without winger Kosta Barbarouses who was handed a two-game ban this week. 

Veteran Archie Thompson would be favourite to start on that flank, but it depends on his recovery from the midweek clash in Osaka. That would mean either Jai Ingham or Connor Pain could get a rare A-League start.

Victory players celebrate Jai Ingham's opening goal against Shanghai SIPG.

OPTA DATA

  • Melbourne Victory is undefeated in their last eight Hyundai A-League matches against the Mariners (W6, D2) and scoring two or more on the last seven occasions.
  • Central Coast has lost their last three home matches in the Hyundai A-League. Another defeat would equal an unwanted club record for home losses.
  • Anything short of a win for Victory will see their winless streak extend to six matches, their longest in the Hyundai A-League since they went eight matches without a win in 2007/08.
  • The Mariners have conceded more penalties than any other team in the Hyundai A-League (6), double the amount that Victory has conceded.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Much will hinge on the fitness of marquee man Garcia for the Mariners.

If the 37-year-old’s hamstring isn’t quite right he may start from the bench. 

While Garcia couldn’t score against the Jets last weekend, some of his approach play and passing for team-mates was superb to watch.

Victory were burnt by the pace of Mitch Austin when they met in Geelong so it will be interesting to see if they have a plan to deal with it better this time.

The other intriguing decision centres around whether coach Tony Walmsley slots striker Roy O’Donovan straight back in after his eight-game ban or sticks with youngster Josh Bingham. 

Ferreira’s return is also a boost for the Mariners, giving them a speedy threat on both flanks.

Central Coast’s Fabio Ferreira and Adelaide United playmaker Marcelo Carrusca have each potted two penalties, the most of any player.

While the results have been lacking for Victory of late, they are still on their day one of the best attacking sides in the league.

But they haven’t been as clinical in the front third as last season. 

The absence of Barbarouses won’t help their cause, the Kiwi flyer has been amongst their best. 

Jai Ingham’s rise to prominence in the ACL does boost Muscat’s options in the front third. 

Besart Berisha has been relatively quiet the last few weeks – for his standards anyway – but something tells me the Albanian could be about to explode. He loves this time of the season where every game counts.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Roy O’Donovan. After eight weeks out through suspension, the Irishman is back in the fold and will be desperate to repay his team-mates with a big performance…and hopefully a goal or two.

Revitalised O’Donovan eyes Garcia partnership