Mariner defence primed

Central Coast's inform defence is relishing the prospect of taking on the A-League's most lethal front man when Gold Coast visits Gosford for the first time on Saturday night.

Central Coast's inform defence is relishing the prospect of taking on the Hyundai A-League's most lethal front man when Gold Coast visits Gosford for the first time on Saturday night.

While scoring goals has been a major concern for the Mariners, the defence has been outstanding, conceding only four goals in six games.

But with Gold Coast striker Shane Smeltz in brilliant form in front of the sticks the Mariners will face their toughest test of the season so far at Bluetongue Stadium.

The Mariners were roundly criticised for their defensive lapses during the final weeks of the last A-League season and throughout the Asian Champions League.

"But we've fixed all those problems," coach Lawrie McKinna said.

"We only had a short pre-season after the Champions League but we did a lot of work and it's paid off. Now we've just got to start scoring goals. "

Central defender Nigel Boogaard has been a key figure in the club's steady start to the year.

He is looking forward to the prospect of taking on Smeltz, who has netted nine goals so far this year.

"He's one of the form strikers of the competition, he's obviously shown that on the scoring chart," Boogaard said.

"If I can prove myself against him then I know I'm in good stead for the season. If we can keep Culina (Jason Culina) quiet as well, hopefully we can go a long way towards beating them."

"The boys know the Gold Coast is probably the benchmark so far this season and to knock them off would really show our intent this season."

The Mariners and Gold Coast played out an exciting 2-2 when they met in a pre-season match on the Gold Coast in July.