The Sky Blues are leading the Hyundai A-League ladder despite – by their own admission – being below their best. Can they maintain their unbeaten start against the attack-minded Mariners in Gosford?
Saturday, 31 October 2015
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-Off: 5:15 PM (Local) (5:15 PM (AEDT))
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 702 ABC Sydney, 92.5 ABC Central Coast & ABC Local Radio NSW, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Coast FM 96.3 (Central Coast)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #CCMvSYD
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Central Coast Mariners: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (C), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Daniel HEFFERNAN, 16.Liam ROSE, 20.Anthony KALIK, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 23.Eddy BOSNAR, 30.Adam PEARCE (GK)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (return from injury), 20.Anthony KALIK (promoted), 23. Eddy BOSNAR (return from injury),
Outs: 18.Glen TRIFIRO (back injury - 1 week)
Sydney FC: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Alex GERSBACH, 5.Matt JURMAN, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 27.Mickael TAVARES
**two to be omitted***
Ins: 11.Christopher NAUMOFF (promoted), 24.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)
Unavailable: 22.Ali ABBAS (Knee – indefinite)
Referee: Adam Fielding
Assistant Referee 1: Ryan Gallagher
Assistant Referee 2: James Tesoriero
Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones
You get the feeling there’s going to be some added feeling here.
Sydney FC come to town not only managed by former Mariners boss Graham Arnold but have two players (Matt Simon and Zac Anderson) and two coaches (Andrew Clark and John Crawley) returning to their former stomping ground.
It’s sure to add some spice to what already is a healthy rivalry between these two NSW clubs.
The Mariners may have lost their last two games but you have to admire what Tony Walmsley is trying to do. They are a young squad showing no fear and really attacking their opposition.
But Walmsley knows that warm, fuzzy feeling surrounding their style will quickly wear off if the losses pile up.
In front of their home fans, they will view this as a match they should win. After all, the Jets defeated Victory last week.
It will be tough though as the Sky Blues are purring along nicely. Still well below their maximum, they are grinding out results and finishing over the top of their opponents.
They’ve scored late winners over the last fortnight which suggests they are supremely fit, mentally strong and a title contender again.
Sydney’s away form over the last year has been exceptional but this will be a huge test at what will be a pumping atmosphere in Gosford.
*Sydney FC has won their last nine away matches in the Hyundai A-League regular season and are 16 unbeaten on the road.
*The Mariners have conceded two goals or more in seven of their last eight matches in the Hyundai A-League.
*Sydney FC scored 11 goals in their three wins over the Mariners last season.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Despite having just one win, the Mariners have played some sublime football and actually lead the league for shots at goal. The issue remains cashing-in on their enterprising play.
Nick Fitzgerald got his first goal of the campaign against Melbourne City last week with a fantastic strike. Walmsley will be hoping that’s the catalyst for the young attacker to produce on a more consistent basis. The pace and power of Mitch Austin and Fabio Ferreira on the flanks and with Storm Roux also overlapping, it will be an area the Mariners will hope to exploit by pinning back FC's full backs.
For the Sky Blues, you’d think Milos Ninkovic will be high on confidence after his late winner in the derby on Saturday night. The Serbian is looking more and more comfortable in the A-League as he looks to work the channels just off the central strikers (as he did to perfection with his winning goal last week in the derby).
With striker Shane Smeltz failing to fire so far this season, could Arnold unleash ex-Mariner Matt Simon from the start on his first return to Gosford since joining the Sky Blues? It would add some more spice to what should be a feisty encounter.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Once an adored hero of the Mariners faithful, Matt Simon returns to Gosford for the first time since joining Sydney FC. Simon was told he was unwanted by the Mariners at the end of last season and will come back to Central Coast Stadium with a point to prove. What type of reception will the home fans give the all-action striker?
Central Coast: WLL
Sydney FC: DWW
PREDICTIONCentral Coast Mariners 2-2 Sydney FC