Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Gold Coast United

Back to the Bluetongue! Show last season's heroes your appreciation as they play their first home game of what is set to be another thrilling campaign.

Back to the Bluetongue! Show last season's heroes your appreciation as they play their first home game of what is set to be another thrilling campaign.

Last season, Central Coast Mariners belied expectations and marched all the way to the Grand Final, where they were agonisingly close to returning victorious. While they didn't manage to claim any silverware, they still deserve a huge reception when they take to the field in a competitive game at the Bluetongue for the first time since that epic match six months ago. So, get yourself a ticket today and get ready to make some noise, not only to show your appreciation for last season, but also to help them on their way to another fantastic campaign.

Against United, Mariners will be looking for their first points of the season, having gone down in their opening match. However, there is no shame whatsoever in coming unstuck against Brisbane Roar, and there were plenty of positives to be taken from the narrow 1-0 defeat at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Returning to the scene of their heartbreak six months on, Mariners put in a brave and disciplined display against the defending champions. Despite conceding plenty of possession, Graham Arnold's side coped admirably with Roar's slick passing and movement and were only undone by Mitch Nichols fine finish in the 72nd minute. Before this decisive blow, the visitors' counter-attacking game threatened a shock smash-and-grab, while, at the other end, prodigious 19-year-old Central Coast keeper Matt Ryan put in a stunning performance. He is certainly a player with a big future.

Meanwhile, Gold Coast United will be looking to build on last week's draw at home to Wellington Phoenix. Miron Bleiberg's side would have hoped to pick up all three points from their opening game but, as it was, they were happy in the end to secure a point. Trailing 1-0 to Chris Greenacre's 17th-minute strike, they showed great spirit to grab an 88th-minute equaliser thanks to a wonder-strike from Olyroo, James Brown. The goal sure made the home fans feel good and was no more than 21-year-old Brown deserved, after he was the key man in a performance that was generally impressive from all the United players.

These two sides were hot rivals last season as they battled for second place. There is no reason why they won't be engaged in a similar tussle this year, so get down to the Bluetongue for this intriguing clash. Three points at this early stage may prove to be vital at the business end of the Hyundai A-League 2011/12 season. Make sure you are there to see all of the action unfold in this Saturday stunner!