Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
One week after sharing the spoils with Newcastle in the F3 Derby, Central Coast takes on another local rival in Sydney FC, which has won both its first two matches and sits in second place on the table.
Date: Saturday August 22 Kick-off: 3:00pm AEST Venue: Bluetongue Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Played 13: Wins: Sydney 6, Central Coast 4, Draws: 3
Previous meeting Central Coast Mariners 2, Sydney FC 1, Bluetongue Stadium, Round 15, December 2008
Season so far: Central Coast: Round 1: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 2, Etihad Stadium Round 2: Central Coast 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Sydney FC: Round 1: North Queensland 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 2: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, SFS
Analysis: One week after sharing the spoils with Newcastle in the F3 Derby, Central Coast takes on another local rival in Sydney FC, which has won both its first two matches and sits in second place on the table.
These two have shared some memorable clashes over the years, including Sydney's 1-0 win over the Mariners in the first-ever Hyundai A-League Grand Final and the Sky Blues' 5-4 success in a Hyundai A-League epic in 2007.
Another nine-goal clash would seem unlikely considering the way both teams have gone about things so far this season. The Mariners impressed with a 2-0 win over Melbourne in the opening game of the season, then shared the points with the Jets thanks to a late goal from an unlikely source in Nigel Boogard, who scored his first ever goal in the Hyundai A-League.
If Sydney looked a bit unconvincing in its opening 3-2 win over the Fury, the win over Adelaide allayed many of those fears with Mark Bridge coming off the bench to find the winner in the 77th minute. It was a solid performance all round, with plenty of chances created.
Lawrie McKinna has a couple of defensive absentees in Chris Doig, who will miss another week with his calf injury, and Shane Huke, who impressed in the ACL campaign but hasn't played at all this season because of a knee injury.
Andrew Clark and David D'Apuzzo come into an otherwise unchanged Central Coast squad, which is looking very solid at the moment.
Sydney has brought three players into an extended squad, including Stuart Musialik who has fallen out of favour with Karol Kisel and Terry McFlynn preferred in defensive midfield. He is an obvious talent but Vitezslav Lavicka has raised the bar for the 24-year-old, and he has to take the step up.
Mitchell Prentice and Rhyan Grant are also in, but are unlikely to break into a starting XI which features in form Kofi Danning and Alex Brosque. Lavicka will look to use their pace to exploit the Mariners down the flanks and create chances for one-time Mariner John Aloisi, who scored two goals in the first game of the season and also scored when the teams last met in December last year.
In that match, the Mariners took the early lead through Dylan Macallister, before Aloisi levelled from the spot just after the hour. But Mile Jedinak sealed the win with a spot kick of his own in injury time. It was significant for Sydney as it started a four-game losing streak which all but ended its season.
That result means that the past three matches between these teams have yielded 17 goals and three red cards, which is a sure sign that sparks fly when these two come together. While both Sydney and Central Coast may be a little more blue-collar this year, it won't lesson the spectacle.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. David D'APUZZO, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK *two to be omitted*
In: Andrew Clark, David D'Apuzzo (promoted)
Unavailable: Chris Doig (Calf, 1 week), Shane Huke (Knee, 4-5 weeks)
Sydney FC squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 5. Mitchell PRENTICE, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT. *three to be omitted*
In: 5. Mitchell PRENTICE (promoted), 8. Stuart MUSIALIK (promoted), 23. Rhyan GRANT (promoted)
Unavailable: 2. Sebastian RYALL (suspended - 2 weeks)