Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United

Most statistics suggest there's little separating the Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United.

Date: Saturday October 31 Kick-off: 7:00pm AEDT (6.30pm ACST) Venue: Canberra Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com

Head-to-head Played 14: Wins: Central Coast 5, Adelaide United 6, Draws: 3

Previous meeting Adelaide United 1, Central Coast 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Round 6, September 2009

Past five matches:

Round 8: Wellington Phoenix 0, Central Coast 0, Westpac Stadium Round 9: Sydney FC 1, Central Coast 0, Sydney Football Stadium Round 10: Central Coast 1, North Queensland Fury 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 11: Brisbane Roar 0, Central Coast 3, Suncorp Stadium Round 12: Newcastle 2, Central Coast 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Round 8: North Queensland 0, Adelaide United 2, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 9: Adelaide United 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 10: Perth Glory 1, Adelaide United 0, Members Equity Stadium Round 11: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 12: Melbourne Victory 3, Adelaide United 1, Etihad Stadium

Analysis:

Most statistics suggest there's little separating the Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United. It's a clash between fifth and sixth with only one point separating them on the ladder, both sides have won four games and the Mariners have managed only more goal than their opponent.

But perhaps the most telling figure surrounds the teams' defensive game - Central Coast has been miserly conceding just eight goals this season while Adelaide has let 15 through.

Danny Vukovic has collected five clean sheets and he's working well with the team's other defenders to keep scoring opportunities to a minimum.

But their stingy system broke down last week - the side losing 2-1 to Newcastle - and that game will surely be dissected by the Reds' hierarchy.

The Jets swooped quickly - they had two goals on the board before the Mariners' Adam Kwasnik scored in the 19th minute to give his side some hope. Perhaps an emphasis on attack for the first half an hour will give the Central Coast the jitters after last week's experience.

United may be able to find a weakness during their review but whether they can capitalize on it is another matter given their inconsistent form.

On top of the world after beating Sydney FC in Round 11, the Reds can crashing back to earth after losing 3-1 to bogey side Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium last week. It was their eighth straight loss to Ernie Merrick's boys.

Overall the game was disappointing but United managed to pressure the Victory for long periods during the second half while Adam Hughes broke his scoring drought with a 64th minute goal.

In other good news Fabian Barbiero will be rushed back into the side after serving a suspension while captain Travis Dodd should come off the bench if he remains injury free.

Daniel Mullen and Shin have also been included in the line-up which suggests a couple of players will pay the price for last week's loss.

With such a tight A-League ladder this is an important 'six-point' game for both sides. The Reds perform best when their backs are to the wall and the Canberra Stadium won't be an intimidating place to visit.

However the Mariners, stinging from their loss to the Jets, have added some scoring power with Nik Mrdja and are settled enough to have success in the nation's capital.

Central Coast squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nick MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK.

In: Nik MRDJA (promoted), Andrew CLARK (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Shane HUKE (suspended - 1 week)

Adelaide United Squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 11.Lloyd OWUSU, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 16.Inseob SHIN, 18. Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Mathew LECKIE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Mark RUDAN

In: Fabian BARBIERO (returns from suspension), Daniel MULLEN (promoted), Inseob SHIN (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Michael MARRONE (knee - 1 week), Paul REID (calf - 2 weeks), Joe COSTA (knee - long term injury list)