Preview: Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners

Time for revenge! Help Heart finally get the better of Mariners with non-stop noise from the stands

Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners Friday 4th February 8:00pm

Time for revenge! Help Heart finally get the better of Mariners with non-stop noise from the stands in this do-or-die battle.

It was supposed to be a night of celebration. After all the hard work, all of the build-up, all of the talk and the preparation, in August Melbourne Heart finally took to the Hyundai A-League stage with a home game against Central Coast Mariners.

A win for the red and white stripes would instantly spark the imagination of those locals who had no affinity to Melbourne Victory. The curtain raiser for the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season, on a Friday night at AAMI Park was set to be epic.

Of course, someone clearly forgot to send Mariners the script. Amid the fanfare surrounding Heart, the Central Coast outfit turned up and, organised as ever, stopped Heart before they-d even got started, snatched a 1-0 win and went home. No fuss, no drama.

Since these early days though, Heart have grown in stature and in confidence. If anything, the opening weekend loss proved to be an important early lesson for the club, a kick up the backside and a warning that this Hyundai A-League is no place for the faint-heated. So, they rolled their sleeves up and worked hard. Their first goal came, then their first win.

Then their first away win. Now, 26 weeks into the season, and with an ever-increasing fan-base, Melbourne Heart are well and truly on the map and have established themselves as genuine contenders for a top six finish. Friday-s clash will be a very different proposition to the one Mariners faced when they kicked-off the season back in August. Heart want to show the rest of the country just how far they-ve come since, still wet behind their ears, they were beaten on that opening night.

More importantly, they desperately need a win to take their exciting finals push to the final weekend of the season. Last week-s loss to Champions-elect Brisbane Roar, means that, realistically, anything but three points here will leave Heart with too much to do to make it into the end-of-season shake up.

Three points are a tough ask though, as, just like Heart, Mariners have also improved continually as the season has progressed, and will be keen to make it a hat-trick of wins against their newest opponents, after they beat Melbourne again in September, at the Bluetongue, by a single goal.

They-ll head to AAMI Park in amazing spirits following last weekend-s magnificent performance against third-placed Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The Mariners were by far the better team in this crucial clash and had the game sewn up thanks to first-half goals from Patricio Perez and Josh Rose in a dazzling display.

The Stripes have a point to prove. AAMI Park is the venue, Central Coast Mariners are the opposition. It-s time for John Van ‘t Schip-s side to get their own back, banish those miserable opening night memories and stay in the running for a top-six finish.

When their journey began in such inauspicious circumstances back in August, who'd have believed what a promising inaugural season it would turn out to be? And there is so much more to come as the excitement reaches boiling point. Get a ticket today and get ready to experience the thrilling action live!

Click here for tickets to see Heart push for the play-offs