Preview: Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners
Date: Saturday August 29, Kick-off: 3:00pm AEST
Date: Saturday August 29 Kick-off: 3:00pm AEST Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Head-to-head Played 14: Wins: Brisbane 6, Central Coast 6, Draws: 2
Previous meeting Central Coast Mariners 3, Queensland Roar 4, Bluetongue Stadium, Round 19, January 2009
Season so far: Brisbane: Round 1: Brisbane Roar 1, Gold Coast United 3, Suncorp Stadium Round 2: Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 3, Etihad Stadium Round 3: Brisbane Roar 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Suncorp 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
Analysis: This is a battle of two teams which will feel little hard done by after draws last week. Brisbane was unable to put away a determined Wellington side, while central Coast missed a last-minute penalty which would have given it a 1-0 win over Sydney.
For Brisbane, it has been a particularly tough start to the year. From two home matches, plus a clash with Melbourne Victory away, it has managed just two points, and the pressure is on here to banish any thoughts that the Suncorp Stadium curse has returned to haunt the Roar.
You may remember that the Roar managed just one point from their first five home games of last season, a record which probably cost them a chance at the Premiership. While Gold Coast's subsequent form has shown that opening round loss was not so surprising, dropping points at home to Wellington will smart, particularly after the Roar had dominated the game after leading 1-0 after just 10 minutes.
But it all went completely pear-shaped after half-time, with six players booked, Tommy Oar sent off and Chris Greenacre ducking in for an equaliser. Coach Frank Farina was sent from the field and is suspended for this week, and had the game gone any longer, you got the feeling that Wellington may have even found a winner.
The pressure is clearly on Farina to get the best out of his young a talented side, but in all three games they have given up early dominance. They were the dominant team in the first half against Gold Coast, led 3-1 over Melbourne at half time, and made a great start thanks to Sergio Van Dijk's third goal of the season last week.
Farina has admitted his side are behind the eight-ball in terms of fitness, in particular with Danny Tiatto and Charlie Miller, and perhaps that is the reason they are struggling to play out the 90 minutes. Josh McCloughan is back from injury in a boost for the defence, while Reinaldo has been added to the squad as well. Tommy Oar misses this one through suspension. Andrew Packer and Massimo Murdocca are out for the medium-term future.
Adam Kwasnik's late spot kick could have delivered Central Coast a second big scalp in the first three weeks, but his shot was poor and Clint Bolton was equal to it. As a result, the Mariners are still unbeaten with two draws and a win, but it could easily be so much better for Lawrie McKinna's men.
However, the Mariners have to be happy with the way they have started the season, having conceded just one goal so far. The changes swung by McKinna in the off-season have clearly tightened up the side.
Nigel Boogaard, although battling a calf injury ahead of this week's game, has been excellent stepping in for Chris Doig, while Michael McGlinchey has been a great addition in the middle of the park, giving the Mariners some real strength going forward.
The key will be whether the Mariners can finish, with Matt Simon, who scored three goals against the Roar last year, admitting he needs to lift his game, while Kwasnik will be looking to rebound from his disappointment from the spot last week.
Andrew Clark has been included in an extended squad, while Doig will miss another two weeks, Shane Huke the next four and Adrian Caceres another week.
It looms as a battle between a wounded Roar team looking to get its campaign moving and a Mariners team hoping to consolidate on strong start to the season with yet another good result.
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 7. Michael ZULLO, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 11. REINALDO, 12. Matt MUNDY, 13. HENRIQUE, 15. Matt McKAY, 16. Bob MALCOLM, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 24. Robbie KRUSE. *two to be omitted*
In: Josh McCLOUGHAN (returns from injury), REINALDO (promoted) Out: Tommy OAR (suspended - 1 week) Unavailable: Andrew PACKER (adductor - 2/3 months), Massimo MURDOCCA (fractured leg - 3/4 months), Tommy OAR (suspended - 1 week)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC, 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK *one to be omitted*
In: Andrew CLARK (promoted) Out: Nil
Unavailable: Chris DOIG (calf - 2 weeks), Shane HUKE (knee - 4 weeks), Adrian CACERES (hamstring - 1 week)