McKinna: Get ruthless

Lawrie McKinna admits his Central Coast team needs to rediscover its ruthless streak in Saturday night's Epworth ABI Cup clash against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

Lawrie McKinna admits his Central Coast team needs to rediscover its ruthless streak in Saturday night's Epworth ABI Cup clash against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

The Mariners have won just one of their past six matches and have been criticised for playing too safe, having scored just 13 goals and conceded eight in 13 matches this season.

McKinna said that while he was happy with the defensive strength of his team, his attacking players needed to start putting away chances like they did in the 2-0 win against Melbourne in Round 1.

"We need to be ruthless. Last week against Adelaide, we thought we controlled the game, we dominated possession, but we didn-t create that many chances. We had one clear-cut chance and (Eugene) Galekovic made a fantastic save. But had that been Melbourne, Archie or Hernandez, they'd have scored that," he said at the launch of the inaugural ABI Cup match, which aims to raise awareness of Acquired Brain Injury and the effects of road trauma.

"That's where we need to be ruthless, when we do get those chances, as we probably were in the first game of the season. It's a fine balance, everybody says we are always this physical and long ball team but we have tried to play football."

McKinna said that two of the club's key midfield recruits, Michael McGlinchey and Nicky Travis, were good attacking players but probably did not get the ball into the box enough to create a lot of chances.

"With the players we've got this year, McGlinchey, Travis, these boys, they are comfortable knocking the ball about, but it's probably taking the edge off us getting the ball into the box and scrapping for things. It's a fine line being defensive and not having a go, or being defensive but still being competitive up front," he said.

"We've decided that we have to be safe, and we've been a lot safer while still having a go at teams."

The Mariners coach backed his strikers, in particular Matt Simon, to produce the goals if they are given more opportunities.

"Matt's got a lot of goals in him, (Adam) Kwasnik's doing very well the last couple of weeks. It's a fine line, but we are reasonably confident tomorrow night we can come here and put on a good show."

In the battle of the Hyundai A-League's best defence and its best attack, Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick thinks it will not just come down to a handful of chances and it will be a surprisingly open match.

"I think it will be a very exciting end-to-end game with a lot of flair and a lot of midfield play and it won't be a case of two defences holding out, I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Merrick, whose team has won six of its past seven games, is confident that his in-form side can reverse the result of earlier in the season, providing it can break down the Mariners defence.

"The Mariners defence is rock solid, they've had their captain marshalling the back since day one. Alex Wilkinson, who does a really good job and I think young (Danny) Vukovic is one of the best young goalkeepers in the league. He is well supported by other defenders, but at the same time, we-ve got a few new players who didn't play in the first match," he said.

"They are really exciting players, like Mate Dugandzic, who's super quick, he's scoring goals for us, Archie is playing his best football he's ever played, Sutee (Suksomkit) has blended in well with our strike force. I think there will be goals in it tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Merrick, a two-time championship-winning coach, confirmed that contract negotiations between he and the club had commenced and he was hopeful of confirming an extension with the club in the near future.

"It's now on the table. I don't want to go into any detail, but as I said, the last week, things are starting to happen," he said.