McKinna: Form irrelevant

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna has issued a warning to his squad ahead of Friday night's F3 derby against Newcastle - expect the unexpected.

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna has issued a warning to his squad ahead of Friday night's F3 derby against Newcastle - expect the unexpected.

While the Jets may be sitting in 9th spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, and although the Mariners might be coming off the back of a gutsy 3-nil away win over Brisbane, McKinna says form counts for little when such fierce rivals clash.

"It's been proven over the years that it doesn't matter where we are running, it's always going to be a hard game. They were unlucky at the weekend, they started off well but kind of faded near the end," said McKinna.

"Against us in the last game we dominated the first half and should have been up (at half time), but they came out of the blocks and got the goal then we came back into cancel each other out."

"Anything can happen, and we just need to be prepared for anything to happen, because it usually does."

Young Jets custodian Ben Kennedy has come under fire from his own coach, Branko Culina, for his role in last week's 3-1 loss to defending champion Melbourne Victory, and McKinna is expecting big things from the young goalkeeper, who will be out to erase the memories of last Sunday.

"Against us the first time he did well and Branko (Culina) works day in day out with the boy so he can say what he wants, but I'm sure Kennedy will be up for the game at the weekend. He's a local Newcastle boy, and there'd be nothing better for him than beating us and getting their season back on track.

"They've not won for a long while which I'm sure that will be at the back of their minds, and we want to win to keep ourselves in the mix."

"We've got a lot to play for but so have they, they're at home, so the pressure is on them a bit," said McKinna.

Conversely, Central Coast 'keeper Danny Vukovic has kept five clean sheets so far this campaign, and leads the way for saves amongst the league's glovemen, adding weight to the fact the club's resolute defence is holding firm.

"Danny has had a great season and I think our defence has had a great season, and that makes it a little bit easier for Danny that a lot of his saves are routine," McKinna said.

The Central Coast are sitting in fifth place, but are within two wins of top spot, and in such a congested ladder, it's the first time since Round 8 1979, one point separates each of the top six clubs, highlighting the need for clubs to string some victories together, and make a charge.

"We've got four or five away games in a row and it's important we keep digging out results."

We did that at the weekend and if we can do it again, we're off to Canberra then Melbourne, and then we have a little break, so the next three weeks are huge for the rest of the season.

"We need to go in scrapping, but also playing some good football like we did at the weekend," said McKinna.

Positively for the Mariners mentor, he has a very healthy selection headache to deal with, as he faces a unique conundrum in the annals of the club.

"Today is the first session, ever, in the history of the Mariners that we've had a full squad training. It puts pressure on a lot of the boys to perform, because if you are underperforming or under training then somebody is there to take your spot, so we're in good nick at the moment," McKinna said.