Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

Both teams are expected to challenge for honours at the end of the season and it is hard to separate them at this early stage.

Date: Sunday 14 October, 2012 Kick-off: 5.00pm AEDT, 5.00pm local Venue: Bluetongue Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 22 Wins: Central Coast 13, Perth 3, Draws: 6

Previous encounter Central Coast 1, Perth 1 (Perth won on penalties 5-3), 14 March 2012

Form: Past matches: Central Coast: D Perth: W

The Game Central Coast kicked off their season with a 0-0 stalemate against Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium, while Perth avenged their controversial grand final loss to Brisbane Roar with a 1-0 victory at Patersons Stadium.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold admitted some of his troops failed to deal with the hype surrounding the A-League newcomers, who forced a number of telling saves from young goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Central Coast had Ryan to thank for securing a point, having been stung by a lack of chances in front of goal as Arnold tinkered with the system that earned the Mariners the A-League premiership last season.

Having won their opening fixture for only the second time in eight A-League campaigns, Perth head to Gosford in search of their first regular season victory at Bluetongue Stadium.

Billy Mehmet, who came off the bench to head home the winner against Brisbane, is expected to start up front with New Zealand's Shane Smeltz away on international duty, and Japanese signing Ryo Nagai could make his Hyundai A-League debut after overcoming a hamstring strain. Adam Kwasnik is set to return from illness for the Mariners.

The big issue Central Coast - Arnold employed two holding midfielders against Western Sydney, shying away from his traditional diamond formation. The Mariners boss hopes the change will make his side more unpredictable as the season goes on, though it remains to be seen how long it will take his charges to adjust to the new style.

Despite dominating possession, Central Coast had just two shots on target at Parramatta Stadium and must create more opportunities to be considered genuine title threats.

Perth - Glory have tasted success just once at Bluetongue Stadium, when they stunned the Mariners on penalties in last season's preliminary final.

In fact, Perth have beaten Central Coast just three times since the A-League's inception in 2005, though they head into this contest full of confidence after recording only their fourth victory from 23 attempts against Roar.

Gamebreaker Billy Mehmet - Ferguson said the Irish forward was unlucky to miss a starting berth for the season opener as he did not fit into the preferred 4-2-3-1 formation with Smeltz as the lone striker.

Mehmet replaced the Kiwi international on 84 minutes and broke the deadlock soon after with his seventh goal from 29 appearances for Glory. Mehmet hopes a repeat performance against the Mariners could tempt Ferguson to select two forwards upon Smeltz's return.

Prediction: Central Coast 1 Perth 1 Both teams are expected to challenge for honours at the end of the season and it is hard to separate them at this early stage.

The Mariners have flown under the radar since their preliminary final loss to Perth, when many expected them to challenge Brisbane in the season decider. It was a heartbreaking defeat and will undoubtedly serve as ongoing motivation for Arnold, who turned down a lucrative offer from Sydney FC at season's end and signed a contract extension with Central Coast.

Glory fans were left to wonder what could have been when Besart Berisha earned and scored a disputed stoppage-time penalty that sealed Brisbane a 2-1 win in the grand final at Suncorp Stadium. But they remained buoyed by a successful pre-season campaign that saw Perth win nine friendly games before making the ideal start against the champions.

With Mehmet ready to fire at one end, and the Mariners keen to break their deadlock at the other, expect at least a goal from both sides in a tense contest.