Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets
Central Coast will be watching the finals from the sidelines for the first time in its history after its slim top-six aspirations became mathematically impossible after suffering an embarrassing 3-1 loss to Perth Glory last week.
Date: Saturday February 6 Kick-off: 6pm AEDT Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, 1 HD and Sky Sport 2. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Played 19: Wins: Central Coast 5, Newcastle 7, Draws: 7
Previous meeting Newcastle 2, Central Coast 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium, Round 12, October 2009
Past five matches: Central Coast: Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Wellington Phoenix 2, Bluetongue Stadium Round 22: Central Coast Mariners 1, North Queensland 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 23: Adelaide United 1, Central Coast Mariners 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 24: Central Coast Mariners 1, Gold Coast United 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 25: Perth Glory 3, Central Coast Mariners 1, Members Equity Stadium
Newcastle Jets: Round 22: Newcastle Jets 3, Melbourne Victory 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 19: Gold Coast United 2, Newcastle 0, Skilled Park Round 23: Brisbane Roar 0, Newcastle 2, Suncorp Stadium Round 24: Newcastle Jets 1, Sydney FC 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 25: North Queensland 2, Newcastle Jets 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium
Analysis: Central Coast will be watching the finals from the sidelines for the first time in its history after its slim top-six aspirations became mathematically impossible after suffering an embarrassing 3-1 loss to Perth Glory last week.
Defensive blunders by Chris Doig and Andrew Clark saw Daniel McBreen score twice in the first 11 minutes before the Glory struck again before half-time to all but end the contest.
Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna was dumbfounded by the result and thinks some of the errors made during the match were what you'd see in the junior grades, not in Australia's elite football competition.
The result means it's been 10 matches since the Mariners last had success.
With Dean Heffernan in England playing with Huddersfield and Michael McGlinchey in Scotland with Motherwell the Mariners are down a couple of quality players.
They look set to make a number of changes with Shane Huke, Panny Nikas, Brady Smith, Nathan Sherlock and Mathew Ryan included in the extended squad while Nigel Boogard is back from suspension.
Newcastle also had a disappointing Round 25 with Perth and Wellington leapfrogging it on the ladder while its match against North Queensland was delayed because of Cyclone Olga.
The game was rescheduled for Tuesday - Matt Thompson put the Jets in front in the 19th minute before the Fury found the equaliser in the 38th minute and then the match-winner 11 minutes from time.
Thompson, along with attacking pair Michael Bridges and Labinot Haliti, created plenty of scoring opportunities in the first half but paid the price for not delivering the killer blow.
In the space of a couple weeks the Jets have seen their slim top-two chances evaporate and now they'll have to play well to host a semi-final. Worst-case scenario would see them slip out of the top-six.
Newcastle looks set to make three changes with Sean Rooney back from injury and Angelo Costanzo, and Sasho Petrovski added to the squad.
It's hard to pick a winner in this clash given the teams' form last week. It'd be disappointing if the Mariners weren't alert from the opening whistle this time around and they've had a few more days to recover and prepare for Saturday night's clash. But the Jets have everything to play for while the home side's motivation levels will be at an all-time low.
Central Coast squad: 2.Matthew CROWELL, 3.Shane HUKE, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 5.Brad PORTER, 7.John HUTCHINSON, 9.Nik MRDJA, 10.Panny NIKAS, 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, 24.Brady SMITH, 28.Nathan SHERLOCK, 30.Mathew RYAN (GK).
In: Shane HUKE (promoted), Panny NIKAS (promoted), Brady SMITH (promoted), Nathan SHERLOCK (promoted), Mathew RYAN (promoted), Nigel BOOGAARD (return from suspension)
Out: Michael McGLINCHEY (loan to Motherwell), Andrew REDMAYNE (GK) (not selected), Mitchell MALLIA (not selected)
Unavailable: Ahmad ELRICH (ankle - indefinite)
Newcastle squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2.Angelo COSTANZO, 3.Adam D-APUZZO, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7.Jin-Hyung SONG, 8.Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 11.Tarek ELRICH, 12.Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14.Michael BRIDGES, 15.Sean ROONEY, 16.Jason HOFFMAN, 22.Kaz PATAFTA, 25.Labinot HALITI, 26.Ali ABBAS, 30.Dion SHAW (gk)
In: Angelo COSTANZO (promoted), Sasho PETROVSKI (promoted), Sean ROONEY (returns from injury)
Unavailable: Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Fabio VIGNAROLI (knee - indefinite), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite), Neil YOUNG (gk) (face - 1-2 weeks)