Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

The Mariners edged Perth in last season's New Years Eve fixture and expect them to do the same on Tuesday night.

The Mariners edged Perth in last season's New Years Eve fixture and expect them to do the same on Tuesday night.

Central Coast Mariners and Perth Glory will meet in Round 12 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Bluetongue Stadium on Tuesday, December 31 at 6pm AEDT.


Played 26: Wins: Central Coast 16, Perth 5, Draws 5

Previous encounter:

Perth 1-2 Central Coast, November 23, 2013


Past five matches

Central Coast: LWLWD

Perth: DLWLL

The Game:

Central Coast's stuttering season continued last Monday as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to grand finalists Western Sydney. The defending champions, who sit sixth on the table, had chances of their own but failed to convert for the second consecutive away game. It was also the Mariners' second successive defeat on the road. Midfielder Michael McGlinchey has since agreed to join Graham Arnold's Vegalta Sendai on loan, though he is eligible to play in Central Coast's next two fixtures. But the club have been boosted by the return of Bernie Ibini, who has arrived from Chinese club Shanghai East Asia until June.

Life under interim head coach Kenny Lowe got off to a subdued start at nib Stadium after Perth played out a goalless stalemate with Adelaide United last Sunday. The Glory, three points adrift of Central Coast, fired blanks against the Melbourne Victory the week before and they were off target again in front of their home fans. Perth did not emerge from their match against Adelaide unscathed, with Japanese winger Ryo Nagai suffering a hamstring injury. He joins Shane Smeltz, marquee defender William Gallas (calf) and Scott Jamieson (Achilles) on the sidelines.

The big issue:

Central Coast - Defence. The Mariners have built a reputation as one of the best defensive units in the competition since their inception. But the Gosford-based club have struggled in recent weeks, shipping six goals in just three games. Central Coast seem to be struggling without Patrick Zwaanswijk (retired) and Pedj Bojic (Sydney FC) no longer at the club and Phil Moss will be hoping for an improved performance from his back four.

Perth - Where are their goals going to come from? The Glory have scored just 10 goals in 11 games this season - only Melbourne Heart (nine) have netted fewer. With New Zealand international striker Smeltz struggling with injury, youngster Jamie MacLaren has had to shoulder most of the workload up front. The Young Socceroo has scored two goals in 11 appearances, with Sidnei and Nagai the only other multiple goalscorers.

The game breaker:

Marcos Flores - The charismatic Argentinean midfielder has gone off the boil in recent weeks after scoring three goals in the opening seven rounds. Despite his recent form, Flores remains the Mariners' leading goal scorer and is still capable of deciding a match on his own.