Preview: Central Coast v Perth Glory
The Mariners return to Bluetongue Stadium for the first time in six weeks but the Glory will be determined to ensure it's no happy homecoming for Lawrie McKinna's in-form side.
Date: Friday November 27 Kick-off: 8:00pm (AEDT), 5:00pm (AWST) Venue: Bluetongue Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford) and 6PR 882AM (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 13 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Central Coast 9, Perth 1, Draws 3
Previous meeting Central Coast 2, Perth Glory 1, Canberra Stadium, Round 5, September, 2009
Last five games: Central Coast: Round 11: Brisbane Roar 0, Central Coast 3, Suncorp Stadium Round 12: Newcastle 2, Central Coast 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 13: Central Coast 0, Adelaide United 0, Canberra Stadium Round 14: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 4, Etihad Stadium Round 15: North Queensland 1, Central Coast 5, Dairy Farmer's Stadium
Perth Glory: Round 11: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 1, Skilled Park Round 12: North Queensland Fury 2, Perth Glory 1, Dairy Farmer's Stadium Round 13: Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Victory 2, ME Bank Stadium Round 14: Wellington Phoenix 1, Perth Glory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 15: Perth Glory 2, Sydney FC 0, ME Bank Stadium
Analysis The Mariners return to Bluetongue Stadium for the first time in six weeks but the Glory will be determined to ensure it's no happy homecoming for Lawrie McKinna's in-form side.
Despite Glory coach Dave Mitchell and his Mariners' counterpart McKinna being firm friends off the pitch, the Mariners have certainly not done the Glory any favours during four-and-a-half seasons of competition. Indeed, in 13 meetings, Perth has only beaten Central Coast once. The Glory had as good a chance as any to help improve this record slightly when they travelled to the neutral Canberra Stadium to face Central Coast in Round 5. But as they've done so many times against Perth, the Mariners found a way to snatch the points as Dylan Macallister took advantage of an uncharacteristic error by Glory stopper Tando Velaphi in the 89th minute, squaring a loose ball for Matt Simon to score the winner in a 2-1 result.
Leading into that game the Mariners had only won the single game from four, but this time around, they go into Friday night's clash in a rich vein of form, with three wins from the last five matches. More importantly, the manner of winning has been impressive. Somewhat goal-shy in the season's opening stages, Central Coast has found its touch in the forward third over the last two rounds, scoring nine goals in 4-0 and 5-1 wins over Melbourne and North Queensland respectively.
In fairness to the Fury, they pressed the Mariners for the opening 20 minutes, but a rapid-fire counter-attack, finished superbly by Pedj Bojic broke the floodgates and North Queensland wasn't really in the hunt from then on, its attempts to score thwarted by Danny Vukovic's brilliance between the sticks. Indeed, Central Coast also enjoys an incredible defensive record, having conceded just nine goals from 16 games, as skipper Alex Wilkinson and Nigel Boogaard form an effective rearguard in front of Vukovic, statistically the league's best 'keeper.
Having keenly watched the two big wins, Glory coach Dave Mitchell is realistic enough to know that such goal scoring form is usually fleeting. To combat it, he also has an impressive defence of his own at his disposal, consisting of veteran centre-halves Andy Todd and Chris Coyne. His full-backs in Naum Sekulovski and Jamie Coyne are also playing well, Coyne having supplied the cross that allowed Scott Bulloch to open the scoring in last Sunday's 2-0 home victory over Sydney. Despite Bulloch's absence this week with a thigh tear, Mitchell will be able to field Mile Sterjovski and Victor Sikora in his run-on side, after cautiously using them off the bench against the Sky Blues last week, as both players returned from illness and a hamstring injury respectively.
Undermanned against Sydney as a result of Sterjovski's illness and Wayne Srhoj's suspension, Mitchell opted to hold Sydney at bay during the first half before attacking after the break. The coach has indicated he won't do that this time around, as Central Coast's creative forms of attack will manage to break through a team attempting to be overly defensive. Instead Mitchell is hoping to take the game to the Mariners, turning the attacking pressure back on a defence that wasn't tested too dramatically last week.
The Glory will be helped in this by Srhoj's return to the midfield. Veteran Jamie Harnwell has been added to the squad as well after recovering from a knee injury but would be a shock inclusion if he played. For the Mariners, their forward division has only been strengthened by Matt Simon's return after the striker missed last week with a slight back strain.
Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 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
*one to be omitted*
In: Matt SIMON (return from injury)
Unavailable: Chris DOIG (quad - 3 weeks), Dylan MACALLISTER (leg - 1 week)
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 28.Tommy AMPHLETT
*one to be omitted*
In: Jamie HARNWELL (return from injury), Wayne SRHOJ (return from suspension)
Out: Scott BULLOCH (thigh - 2 weeks)
Unavailable: Jimmy DOWNEY (knee - 1 week), Brent GRIFFITHS (hamstring - 2 weeks), Anthony SKORICH (foot - 6 weeks)