Preview: Central Coast v Gold Coast
The Hyundai A-League witnesses its first-ever 'Coast Derby' on Saturday night, with Gold Coast playing its second-successive road match against Central Coast.
Date: Saturday September 19 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Central Coast Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit Ticketek
Head-to-head No prior meetings
Past five matches: Central Coast: Round 2: Central Coast 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 3: Central Coast 0, Sydney FC 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 4: Brisbane Roar 1, Central Coast 0, Suncorp Stadium Round 5: Central Coast 2, Perth Glory 1, Canberra Stadium Round 6: Adelaide United 1, Central Coast 0, Hindmarsh Stadium
Gold Coast: Round 2: Gold Coast United 5, North Queensland 0, Skilled Park Round 3: Adelaide United 0, Gold Coast United 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 4: Newcastle Jets 1, Gold Coast United 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 5: Gold Coast United 2, Sydney FC 1, Skilled Park Round 6: Perth Glory 2, Gold Coast United 2, ME Bank Stadium
Analysis: The Hyundai A-League witnesses its first-ever 'Coast Derby' on Saturday night, with Gold Coast playing its second-successive road match after coming back from two goals down to share the points against Perth in the 'Iron Ore' derby last week. The Mariners are coming off a flat performance against Adelaide, where they were beaten 1-0.
This match is Gold Coast's fifth away trip in the first seven rounds and the competition newcomers look particularly well-placed having established a three-point lead over Sydney on top of the table over the first six rounds. After this match, Miron Bleiberg's team play five of their next seven at Skilled Park.
Last week's draw with Perth was full of character, with Gold Coast battling in the first half, trailing 2-0 before rallying thanks to goals from Bas van den Brink and who else but Shane Smeltz, who netted his ninth goal of the season in the final minute of the match.
It was a character-building effort, according to Bleiberg, who saw the team's defence concede two goals in a match for the first time. The trip across the Nullarbor is never and easy one, and a point isn't a bad result, particular when you consider that a week earlier, they became the first team this year to knock off Sydney.
Bleiberg's side is starting to look quite stable and the only out this week is defender Daniel Piorkowski, who will miss at least two with an ankle injury. Gold Coast is still missing few key players, with Jess Vanstratten's Hyundai A-League debut another week away, while Robson, Joel Porter and Andrew Barisic are also likely to return against Melbourne in Round 8. Tahj Minniecon is in Cyprus preparing for the U-20 World Cup. Matt Osman comes back from a hip injury and Steven Lustica has also been included.
Lawrie McKinna certainly hasn't hit the panic button after the loss to Adelaide, and gets back Michael McGlinchey, who will be a welcome addition in the midfield. Chris Doig is back from injury, while Matthew Ryan has won inclusion into an extended squad from the NYL. Andrew Redmayne is on Qantas Young Socceroos duty.
The midfield battle is crucial to who wins this match, with McKinna's main task stopping the flow from Jason Culina and Zenon Caravella. The key to Smeltz's form this year has been the delivery from midfield and Pedj Bojic will face a big task trying to stop the dynamic Gold Coast pair from getting the ball forward.
If the ball does get through, at least McKinna has arguably the form goalkeeper of the competition in Danny Vukovic at his disposal. It took a cracking shot from Cassio to beat him last week, but otherwise he didn't look too troubled.
The problem is up the other end, with the Mariners having scored the least amount of goals of any in the A-League despite having lost just two matches. Since netting two against the Victory in Round 1, the well has run dry with just three more to show for their efforts. Two of those goals have come from central defenders Nigel Boogard and Alex Wilkinson, while Matt Simon, who has two, is the only striker to get on the board yet. Nik Mrdja and Dylan Macallister need to start threatening the goals if the Mariners are going to start moving up the table.
The challenge for the Mariners is to contain Gold Coast's firepower, while trying to unleash their own, while a 90-minute performance like the second 45 against Perth last week would see Gold Coast return home with the points.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4. Brad PORTER, 5. Pedj BOJIC, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Matthew RYAN (gk). *two to be omitted*
In: Chris DOIG (return from injury), Michael McGLINCHEY (return from international duty), Matthew RYAN (promoted from NYL) Out: Andrew REDMAYNE (international duty) Unavailable: Shane HUKE (knee - 4 weeks)
Gold Coast United Squad: 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 11.MILSON, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 16.Kristian REES, 17.Matt OSMAN, 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.ANDERSON, 25.Steven LUSTICA, 26.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 40.Robbie BAJIC (gk) *one to be omitted*
In: Matt OSMAN (return from hip injury), Steven LUSTICA (promoted from NYL) Out: Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle - 2 weeks) Unavailable: JEFFERSON (knee injury - 4 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (ankle injury - 1 week), Andrew BARISIC (suspended - 1 week), Joel PORTER (calf injury - 1 week), ROBSON (knee injury - 1 week), Tahj MINNIECON (international duty)