Avoid the spoon! That's the catch-cry from Central Coast winger Connor Pain as he prepares to return to his old stomping ground with the revitalised Mariners this Friday night in Melbourne.
Pain's Mariners face Melbourne Victory on Harvey Norman Friday Night Football, knowing a win will see them dodge a second consecutive bottom-placed finish in the Hyundai A-League.
The Mariners sit one point clear of Adelaide United and bitter rivals Newcastle Jets - who they beat last week - at the foot of the ladder.
"For us, avoiding that spoon is very important," Pain told www.a-league.com.au before the Mariners jetted to Melbourne.
"We want to go there and obviously try to win or get something from the game.
"Although the Jets are playing Sydney and Adelaide have got Western Sydney, stranger things have happened in football.
"I wouldn't be surprised at all if one of those two ended up winning, or even both of them.
"Hopefully by the time the other two play, we're safe from the spoon.
"That's basically our aim - to go down there and do a job," he said.
MELBOURNE TO MARINERS THE RIGHT MOVE
Pain spent four seasons in Melbourne, but had limited opportunities, playing mainly a support role to Victory's all-star attacking cast.
By contrast, he's played every one of the Mariners' 26 games this season and has relished the move to Gosford.
The Melbourne-raised Pain racked up another spot in the www.a-league.com.au team of the week for Round 26 and would relish a big finish to the season against his former employers.
"You maybe get a bit stale in the same environment when you're not doing as well or playing as much as you want to," he noted.
"To come to the Mariners - where I could see myself playing game-time - was actually a really, really good decision.
"Back playing regular football makes you really happy and makes you want to go to training and try your best.
"I want to keep improving as well.
"It's only been the first year of me playing regular football.
"I think I've done well and I just want to help the club next year and try to get into the [top] six," he added.
THE COAST WITH THE MOST
Pain lives with Mariners team-mates Liam Rose and Storm Roux, surely a scenario that would suit a reality TV show.
"I don't think it would be as interesting as people think!" laughed Pain.
"They made me feel really welcome and the whole community did actually.
"People were very happy to have me on board and would say so.
"It was great to be valued in a smaller community, as the Coast is.
"They really love their football up here and they want to see their team return to the glory days that they once were."