Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix

Time to push on! As the Hyundai A-League season nears its conclusion, Mariners are determined

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix Sunday 9 January 2011 5PM

Time to push on! As the Hyundai A-League season nears its conclusion, Mariners are determined not to fall away this time.

It-s crunch time for Central Coast Mariners and the future looks very exciting for the Yellow Army as the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season heads towards a thrilling conclusion.

However, with the team sitting in a great position in the ladder and ready to really set about an assault on some silverware, they will be very wary not to repeat what happened in the second-half of last season when a horrific run of one win in 12 saw the team plummet from third in the table to a lowly finishing position of eighth. So, it-s unsurprising that Graham Arnold and his players are approaching the end of season with an optimism that is laced with caution.

In truth though, this Mariners side, with lessons learned from last season, have every chance of achieving something very special in the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season. Their brand of fast, attacking football with a solid spine has consistently impressed and there can be few neutrals that would begrudge them ending their campaign with some silverware in their hands.

What they-ll need as much as anything though, if they are to sustain their fine season, is the fervent backing of their army of fans. With two home games in four days, now is the perfect time to show your allegiance. Grab some tickets, pull on the iconic yellow and navy and sing yourself hoarse as your boys go for glory.

While Mariners would like nothing more than to carry forth the form they showed for most of the latter part of 2010, their opponents this weekend would love to begin the New Year with a fresh start when it comes to their away form. Having only won twice on the road in the whole of 2010, they-ll be dead set on starting as they mean to go on in 2011, with a win in their first away game of the year.

They-ve got a decent chance too. Of the four times they have played in the Central Coast, they-ve won half of them, including a triumph the last time they visited the Bluetongue in December 2009. Back then, an unanswered Paul Ifill brace was enough to secure the spoils. They-ll be without the injured Ifill this time round, but such a decent record in New South Wales will give them hope of picking up some points in his absence.

The two meetings between the sides at the Westpac this season gives little indication of which way the points will head on Sunday. Back in August, goals either side of half-time from Leo Bertos and Paul Ifill inflicted Mariners- first loss of their Hyundai A-League 2010/11 campaign, while, in November, the visitors stunned the Fever Zone by smashing Phoenix 3-0. Then, Joshua Rose-s brace and an Adam Kwasnik goal against his former club brought about a famous win for Mariners in a ground where few teams succeed.

This one could go either way. While Phoenix generally struggle on Australian soil, they have already proved that they are more than capable of beating Mariners this season and will be hell-bent on revenge following that 3-0 humbling at Westpac in November.

So, Yellow Army, you are going to have raise your voices if you want your team to secure three vital points. Got down to the Bluetongue and get involved in the drama. It-s your club, your season, make a difference!

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