Preview: North Queensland v Central Coast
North Queensland's prospects of getting itself back off the foot of the table and into contention for the top six rely on a strong result in Saturday's match against fourth-placed Central Coast in Townsville on Saturday.
Date: Saturday November 21 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST, 9:00pm AEDT Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 6PR 882AM (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Played 1: Draws: 1
Previous Meeting Central Coast Mariners 1, North Queensland Fury 1, Round 10, October 2009
Past five matches: North Queensland: Round 10: Central Coast 1, North Queensland 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 11: North Queensland 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 12: North Queensland Fury 2, Perth Glory 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 13: Gold Coast United 0, North Queensland 2, Skilled Park Round 14: Newcastle Jets 2, North Queensland 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Central Coast: Round 10: Central Coast 1, North Queensland Fury 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 11: Brisbane Roar 0, Central Coast 3, Suncorp Stadium Round 12: Newcastle Jets 2, Central Coast 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 13: Central Coast 0, Adelaide United 0, Canberra Stadium Round 14: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast 4, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis: North Queensland's prospects of getting itself back off the foot of the table and into contention for the top six rely on a strong result in Saturday's match against fourth-placed Central Coast in Townsville on Saturday.
In a condensed table at the halfway point of the season, Central Coast is only five points clear of the Fury and a win to the home side in this match will see them move up the table and on the edge of the top six. For the Mariners, who headed into the bye week off the back of their best win of the season, a 4-0 away drubbing of Melbourne, a victory is needed to consolidate their good form and maintain touch with the top three, who are threatening to break away.
Both teams could be accused of inconsistency this year with the Fury coming off back-to-back wins before losing to Newcastle while the Mariners have only two wins in their past seven, but both of them have been ultra-impressive efforts on the road.
The story of the Fury this year is that when they have been able to get a hold of the midfield and give Robbie Fowler plenty of the ball, they have been very good, but when they have adopted a defensive mindset, teams have been able to break their defence down.
Generally, it has been at home where North Queensland has struggled, having won one of six matches at Dairy Farmers Stadium, that being its most recent against Perth in Round 12. It has only managed to average one goal per match there. Matches played in the sub-tropical heat of Townsville tend to be at a lower tempo and there is an argument to suggest that this doesn't suit the Fury's game plan. They are certainly not the only team which performs better on the road.
Central Coast has picked up half its points away and half at home, but its three best wins of the year have all come on the road. Two of them have been against Melbourne (2-0 and 4-0) and the other was against Brisbane. Nine of the club's 17 goals (and all its goal difference) have come in those games.
The difference in the most recent game was that all three strikers which Lawrie McKinna used against Melbourne got on the scoresheet, with Adam Kwasnik and Nik Mrdja joining the reliable Matt Simon in hitting the back of the net. One of the criticisms of the Mariners has been the fact they don't create enough chances, but the playmaking performance of Nicky Travis against Melbourne shows that they have the personnel, they just need the application. Michael McGlinchey and Matthew Crowell return for this match.
The Mariners boast a magnificent defensive record having conceded just eight goals from 14 games and it has been 256 minutes since their defence was last breached. Captain Alex Wilkinson is in career-best form and he is relishing the partnership with Nigel Boogaard. The entire team looks accountable for their performance.
The Fury suffered a major blow in their last match with James Robinson set to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury, joining Shane Stefanutto and Scott Wilson on the long-term injury list.
Defenders Karl Dodd and Jack Hingert and midfielders Robbie Middleby and Fred Agius have been included in an extended squad.
North Queensland Fury squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (GK), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY 3.Chris TADROSSE, 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 10.Jeremy BROCKIE, 11.David WILLIAMS, 12.Jack HINGERT,14.Chris GROSSMAN, 15.Fred AGIUS, Paul 16. KOHLER, 17.Osama MALIK, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 20.Justin PASFIELD, (RGK), 21.John TAMBOURAS, 22. Karl DODD, 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24. Dyron DAAL *three to be omitted*
In:Karl DODD (return from injury), Robbie MIDDLEBY(return from injury), Fred AGIUS (promoted), Jack HINGERT (promoted)
Out: James Robinson (injury)
Unavailable: Jacob TIMPANO (hamstring - 2 weeks), Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite), James Robinson (knee- indefinite)
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, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 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 *two to be omitted*
In: Michael McGLINCHEY (returns from international duty), Matthew CROWELL (returns from suspension)
Unavailable: Dylan MACALLISTER (leg - 1 week), Chris DOIG (quad - 4 weeks)