Preview: Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners

Ddespite Adelaide's lowly position on the table, one gets the feeling it's due for a result after five underwhelming rounds this season, but whether the Reds can claim any points from a Mariners side proving very hard to beat remains to be seen.

Date: Friday September 11 Kick-off: 7:30pm ACST, 8:00pm AEST Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (HD) and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.venuetix.com.au

Head-to-head Played 13: Adelaide United wins 5, Central Coast Mariners wins 5, Drawn 3

Previous Meeting Central Coast 0, Adelaide United 1, Bluetongue Stadium, Round 21, January 2009

Season so far: Adelaide United: Round 1: Adelaide United 1, Perth Glory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 2: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, SFS Round 3: Adelaide United 0, Gold Coast United 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 4: Adelaide United 3, North Queensland Fury 3, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 5: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium

Central Coast: Round 1: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 2, Etihad Stadium Round 2: Central Coast 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 3: Central Coast 0, Sydney FC 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 4: Brisbane Roar 1, Central Coast 0, Suncorp Stadium

Analysis: Appearances can be deceiving and despite Adelaide's lowly position on the table, one gets the feeling it's due for a result after five underwhelming rounds this season. But whether the Reds can claim any points from a Mariners side proving very hard to beat remains to be seen.

Over the last month, not much has gone right for Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar following a first-up win over Perth. At selection, the Reds have been something of a revolving door as players have been absent through injury and suspension, with Vidmar struggling to get a settled line-up on the park. Striker Lloyd Owusu has scored once for the club, but after a pre-season hit hard by swine flu, hasn't really settled into his groove, while the absence of skipper Travis Dodd with a calf injury for the last two rounds certainly hasn't helped matters.

In the last four weeks, the Reds have conceded seven goals and scored only four, although it must be said both these tallies have been somewhat inflated by a 3-3 goalfest against North Queensland a fortnight ago. Just from these figures, one gets the impression Adelaide's defence isn't quite as tight as it was last season, while its strike power appears limited. However, at both ends of the ground, Vidmar is still integrating players that arrived late in the piece like defender Mark Rudan and Owusu up front. However, both these players have now had a couple of matches to adjust to the competition's tempo and with Dodd back on board to do the extra bullocking work up forward and inspire the charges, Adelaide's structure appears substantially more dangerous. However, the defence will still have to lift another notch with Robbie Cornthwaite suspended for one more week, especially as it was fortunate not to concede a second goal and the win to Wellington last week in what eventually proved a 1-1 result at Westpac Stadium.

Central Coast, in stark contrast, seems to be cruising through the season after beating Perth Glory 2-1 last week. A win in this fixture would see the Mariners temporarily leapfrog Sydney FC into second position on the table, just one point behind the table-topping Gold Coast United. Lawrie McKinna's men also have the equal-best defensive record of any team, having conceded just three goals in five rounds, the same as Gold Coast.

But the Mariners have only got five goals to their name this season and even in victory last week were somewhat fortunate to score a second when the Glory conceded a last-minute winner through goalkeeper Tando Velaphi's uncharacteristic error. Despite controlling possession for much of the second half last week, Central Coast really didn't threaten the Glory's well-marshalled defence during this period and the midfield will have to lift a notch in order to penetrate Adelaide's rearguard, which is sure to be fired up in front of a home crowd. McKinna, though has a serious headache with his midfield and that's because of the absence of Michael McGlinchey, who'll miss this match after playing in New Zealand's 3-1 friendly win over Jordan in Amman on Thursday morning. McGlinchey, in tandem with the impressive Nicky Travis, were at the heart of every quality move forward last week and his absence will hurt. McKinna has said Travis will occupy McGlinchey's position, playing in the hole behind strikers Matt Simon and the fit-again Nik Mrdja, but the coach is still looking at options to replace Travis in midfield, with the only change to last week's side being the inclusion of defender Dean Heffernan, who returns from a leg injury.

How much McGlinchey's absence hurts Central Coast's structure remains to be seen. Despite its great defence so far this season, McKinna will now be looking to build on the winning momentum from last week to get a result against Adelaide. But the Reds are a proud bunch, particularly at home. They will have taken umbrage to Mariners' striker Mrdja calling them 'vulnerable' throughout the week and one suspects the defence will lift accordingly. But Adelaide has got to get a win from this clash as it seems to have been wasting the chance to get early points on the board when the club has several home matches. As a result, the defensive shackles may be broken and we could get a repeat of the classic 3-3 contest between these two sides from last season.

Adelaide United Squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.ALEMAO, 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 11.Lloyd OWUSU, 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Inseob SHIN, 17.Michael MARRONE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Mark RUDAN

*two to be omitted*

In: CASSIO (returns from injury), Travis DODD (returns from injury)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Robert CORNTHWAITE (suspended - 1 week), Kristian SARKIES (calf - indefinite), Fabian BARBIERO (calf - 1 week)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK.

In: Dean HEFFERNAN (Return from injury)

Out: Michael MCGLINCHEY (International Duty)

Unavailable: Shane HUKE (Knee - 5 weeks), Chris DOIG (Calf - 2 weeks)