Anything less than the full three points against Wellington on Sunday will be unacceptable for Gold Coast United, according to returning striker Dylan Macallister.
Anything less than the full three points against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday will be unacceptable for Gold Coast United, according to returning striker Dylan Macallister.
United remain bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder heading into this weekend's match against Phoenix, but the club feels strongly that they don't belong in the doldrums.
Given their wretched run with luck, a hard time with injury and suspension and some borderline refereeing decisions going against them all throughout the season, that feeling may be warranted.
But with Macallister's return from a hamstring injury, they will come into their next match with a near-full strength squad - only long-term victims Glen Moss (adductor) and Joel Porter (calf) are sidelined - and will play on their own turf at Skilled Park.
Macallister said excuses will no longer do.
"A point for us on Sunday is not good enough," he said.
"This week is a game we should be winning. We've been playing well, in the last month or so, and we're still in touch of the top six."
"We have high hopes for this year, and we think we should be a lot higher up on the table than where we are."
"It's been disappointing results-wise but football-wise, we've been doing quite well and progressing."
It's unclear whether Macallister will play his first game since Boxing Day from the bench or as a starter, and that's partly because of United's in-form strikeforce.
Dutch striker Maceo Rigters, whizkid winger Ben Halloran and breakout star James Brown have formed a potent attacking trident in recent weeks, and it could take a fair bit to unseat them.
The towering target man said that competition for places was a positive thing for Gold Coast.
"This is what a team should be doing, making headaches for the coach. I can do a job for them," he said. "(But) Ben Halloran's really stepped up this year."
"It's not uncommon that young boys come in and have a couple of good games here and there, but he's shown consistency, that he can play 90 minutes."
"And he's chipping in with a few goals, which is always helpful."
"Mace is a professional. He's a very good player and when he's at his best, he's one of the best in the league."
"Browny of course has had a strong year as well, and even Golgol Mebrahtu has had a couple of cameo appearances in the last few weeks and put his hand up."
Macallister comes up against one of his former teams on Sunday, in Wellington Phoenix.
The New Zealand side went through drama in the off-season, after Terry Serepisos relinquished his ownership to a consortium of businessmen known as Welnix.
The upheaval came with a feeling of uncertainty surrounding the club's future and had impact on Phoenix's squad, with coach Ricki Herbert's hands tied during the transfer window.
But one thing has been preserved - their strength through adversity, their fighting spirit and their ability to battle against the odds.
Having spent the 2010-2011 season in Wellington, Macallister knows that mentality can deliver results.
"They're a strong team. They've got a great group of guys together, their team spirit is fantastic and they've been getting some results on the road this year," he said.
"They made a couple of really good signings in the off-season and they've really been gelling," he said.
"They're a dangerous team, with dangerous players all over the park and they should not be taken lightly."