Preview: Central Coast v Sydney FC
There hasn't been a lot for Central Coast to get too excited about in the past three weeks and as a result its season is on shaky ground.
Date: Saturday December 13 Kick-off: 7pm local Venue: Bluetongue Stadium TV: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Coast FM (Gosford) 96.3FM. To purchase tickets visit www.premier.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Past 12 Hyundai A-League meetings: Central Coast - 3 wins, Sydney FC - 6 wins, Draws - 3.
Previous meeting Sydney FC 3, Central Coast 3, Sydney Football Stadium, Round 10, November 2008
Past Five Games Central Coast: Round 10: Sydney FC 3, Central Coast 3, Sydney Football Stadium Round 11: Central Coast 3, Adelaide United 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 12: Melbourne 2, Central Coast 1, Telstra Dome Round 13: Perth Glory 2, Central Coast 2, Members Equity Stadium Round 14: Central Coast 1, Queensland Roar 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Sydney FC: Round 10: Sydney FC 3, Central Coast Mariners 3, Sydney Football Stadium Round 11: Sydney FC 1, Wellington Phoenix 2, Sydney Football Stadium Round 12: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 13: Sydney FC 1, Queensland Roar 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 14: Newcastle Jets 1, Sydney FC 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Analysis There hasn't been a lot for Central Coast to get too excited about in the past three weeks and as a result its season is on shaky ground. After climbing to second spot on the ladder after a 3-0 victory over Adelaide United, the Mariners have lost to Melbourne Victory and drawn with Perth Glory and Queensland Roar.
Taking just two points in those contests has seem them slip to fifth on the ladder but it only takes a win to get back amongst the action in this tight Hyundai A-League season.
Their chances of success have been boosted with the inclusion of goal scorer Matt Simon, Paul O'Grady and Dean Heffernan.
Heffernan broke his leg last season but made his return in the National Youth League last weekend. While he's set to start on the bench, Heffernan's mere presence should lift the morale of the team.
In other good news, Mile Jedinak and David D'Apuzzo have been retained in the squad despite carrying injuries.
Andre Gumprecht's breakthrough goal against the Roar last week should also buoy spirits and strengthen the team's belief they can come back from any situation to claim a point or more.
This fighting spirit was never more evident than their draw against Sydney FC back in Round 10. Trailing 3-0 they scored the last three goals of the game to leave the pitch feeling like quasi-victors.
Last weekend, Sydney FC recorded its first win in five matches and the confidence and relief that comes with that result would've given the players a massive boost.
The Sky Blues came from behind to win with Iain Fyfe heading home the equaliser while NYL player Brendan Gan became an instant hero by scoring the match winner.
Fyfe is heading to Adelaide United next season but his ongoing hunger for Sydney FC success should be lifting spirits among his team-mates. The defender's leave-nothing-in-the-tank-mentality, despite his decision to change clubs, makes him a dangerous player for the rest of the season.
If track records are anything to go by Sydney should have the edge in this clash. It has won six of 12 encounters, while three have been won by the Mariners and three have been drawn.
The teams have a history of playing out high-scoring games (25 goals in the last four encounters) and are keen to continue the attacking tradition.
Sydney FC to make it consecutive wins with a 3-2 result.
Central Coast Mariners Squad. 2. Andre GUMPRECHT, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 6. David D'APUZZO, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 10. Adrian CACERES, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 13. Paul O'GRADY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 17. Matthew OSMAN, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Sasho PETROVSKI, 23. Mile JEDINAK, 30. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk). *three to be omitted.
In. 8.Dean HEFFERNAN (Promoted), 13.Paul O'GRADY (Promoted), 19.Matt SIMON (Promoted). Out. Nil.
Sydney FC Squad. 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Iain FYFE, 7. Rob MIDDLEBY, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 16. Chris PAYNE, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 23. John ALOISI, 28. Bobby PETTA, 29. Beau BUSCH, 31. Antony GOLEC, 32. Brendan GAN.