Hyundai A-League preview: Wanderers v Mariners

After impressive wins boosted both sides’ finals ambitions last week, Sunday’s clash at Spotless  looms as vital in the chase for a spot in the six.

MATCH DETAILS

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Central Coast Mariners

Spotless Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park

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

Referee:  Kris Griffiths-Jones

Assistant Referee 1:  Lance Greenshields

Assistant Referee 2:  James Tesoriero

Fourth Official:  Luke Withell

TV Broadcast:  Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 4.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: ABC Radio Sydney, ABC Radio Canberra, ABC Radio Central Coast, ABC Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Coast FM 96.3, Hawkesbury Radio

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

To purchase tickets visit  www.aleague.com.au

Western  Sydney Wanderers FC squad:  1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 8.DIMAS (c), 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Bruno PIÑATARES, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 18.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 24.Terry ANTONIS, 29.Ryan GRIFFITHS

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  6.Mitch NICHOLS (promoted), 12.Scott NEVILLE (returns from suspension)

Wanderers midfielder Mitch Nichols charges onto the ball at Spotless Stadium.

Outs:  Nil

Unavailable:  Jacob MELLING (back – indefinite)

Central  Coast Mariners squad:  1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 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

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  6.Blake POWELL (return from injury), 21.Michael NEILL (promoted)

Blake Powell

Outs:  Nil

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

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

The Wanderers go into this Round 19 clash desperately chasing their first three points of the season at their temporary home at Olympic Park.

Tony Popovic’s side have only notched four wins this season – the same as their ninth placed opponents. On the other hand, they’ve only been beaten five times – the same number  as second placed Victory. 

It’s the amount of draws the Wanderers have accrued – especially at home - that have them precariously placed in sixth spot.

That said the Red and Black produced arguably their best performance of the campaign last weekend against the Phoenix, and suddenly Popovic’s belief that his side can still make the Grand Final doesn’t seem so preposterous.

New faces Terry Antonis, Vedran Janjetovic and Ryan Griffiths have seemingly re-energised Western Sydney, with the former seamlessly slotting into midfield in his starting debut in New Plymouth.

Terry Antonis

With Mitch Nichols back in the squad – and eyeing his 200th Hyundai A-League appearance - Scott Neville returning from suspension and Griffiths itching to be unleashed, suddenly Popovic has some welcome selection headaches.

Standing in their way will be a Mariners outfit high on confidence after notching back-to-back home wins to put themselves back in the finals reckoning.

With seventh and eighth playing the top two sides this weekend, three points here could see Paul Okon’s side climb to within two points of the top six.

In order to achieve that the Mariners will need to find a way to improve their abysmal away record, which is currently a four-game losing streak.

Of course last week’s win came at the neutral GIO Stadium in Canberra, but with the Wanderers struggling to settle at their new home perhaps this looms as the perfect chance to snap that run.

The Mariners are still missing the experienced Mickael Tavares and Jacques Faty to injury but the kids have proved they’re alright this season – and with keeper Paul Izzo in dazzling form they’re more than capable of springing an upset.

Central Coast Mariners players celebrate Kwabena Appiah's goal in their win over Adelaide United.

OPTA STATS

  • Western Sydney Wanderers are undefeated in their last five games against the Mariners (W4, D1) and have scored four goals in a game twice across their last three games with the Central Coast side. 
  • The last and only time that the Mariners have won an away game against the Wanderers was in January 2013; Western Sydney have since notched three wins and three draws at home. 

ROUTE TO GOAL

The Wanderers have tried numerous options at the point of their attack this season but Brendon Santalab's fine brace last weekend was a reminder of how key he can be. 

A goal to marquee playmaker Nico Martinez will also boost the confidence of the diminutive Argentine, who this week expressed a desire to extend his loan deal with the club.

Wanderers

With the Mariners conceding the second most goals this season, this also looms as the perfect chance to get some minutes into newly signed striker Ryan Griffiths. 

The Mariners welcomed back Roy O’Donovan to their starting line-up for last weekend’s trip to the capital but it was Fabio Ferreira and Kwabena Appiah that grabbed the goals.

The Portugese forward has netted in consecutive weeks, while a first A-League goal to Appiah will ensure he’s buzzing for the chance to reproduce more of the same against his former club.

The Mariners have speed to burn out wide with Trent Buhagiar and Connor Pain also on the flanks, so they’ll be hoping to pin back Wanderers' attack-minded full backs in the expected hot conditions.

Connor Pain and Kwabena Appiah celebrate a Mariners goal.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Mitch Nichols. Having overcome a groin injury that saw him ruled out of last week’s trip to New Zealand, the Wanderers midfielder is set to join the exclusive Hyundai A-League 200 games club on Sunday.

FORM LINES

Western Sydney Wanderers: LDWLW

Central Coast Mariners: LLLWW

PREDICTION

Wanderers 2-1 Mariners