Preview: North Queensland v Perth
Once again North Queensland is looking to rebound from a disappointing effort after its big loss to Sydney FC last round. But the Fury are up against a Perth side unbeaten in four matches.
Date: Friday December 11 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST, 5:30pm AWST 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 2: Wins: North Queensland 1, Perth Glory 0, Draws: 1
Previous Meeting North Queensland 2, Perth Glory 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium, Round 12, November 2009
Past five matches: North Queensland: Round 13: Gold Coast United 0, North Queensland 2, Skilled Park Round 14: Newcastle Jets 2, North Queensland 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 15: North Queensland 1, Central Coast 5, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 16: North Queensland 2, Adelaide United 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 17: Sydney FC 4, North Queensland 1, Sydney Football Stadium
Perth Glory: 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 Round 16: Central Coast 0, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 1, Brisbane Roar 1, ME Bank Stadium
Analysis: Once again North Queensland is looking to rebound from a disappointing effort after its big loss to Sydney FC last round. But the Fury are up against a Perth side unbeaten in four matches, although one that's struggling to turn draws into wins.
Indeed, this is a particularly curious clash to start the round. On their day, the Fury have played some fantastic football, claiming the scalps of Gold Coast United, Sydney and the Glory in a 2-1 result the last time these teams played.
But after a run of positive results, the wheels have fallen off somewhat in the last month as the Fury have been beaten 5-1 by Central Coast and 4-1 by Sydney FC last week, either side of a 2-1 win over cellar dweller Adelaide.
Of course many teams may have been blasted off the park by Sydney in the mood it was in last week.
Having lost three in a row, Sydney turned it on and anyone watching Alex Brosque kick a goal while lying on the ground just knew there wasn't much the Fury could do about it. But the result will still hurt and coach Ian Ferguson would have pulled out all stops to ensure his team is in the mood to atone.
Experienced campaigners Chris Tadrosse, Karl Dodd and Dyron Daal have all been included in an extended squad that will be cut by three but whether the coach plays the former two remains to be seen, as their defensive limitations were exposed repeatedly by Central Coast.
The Glory on the other hand are an enigma. They may be unbeaten in four matches but have only won once during that time, the solitary victory over Sydney also being their single three-point result since Round 10.
Consequently Perth has remained in fifth on the table for the last seven rounds.
Much of the Glory's success, however, can be attributed to their defence, which has conceded just two goals in the last four games and only 19 for the season. But further up the park, problems begin as seen by last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Brisbane.
While an injury-hit Roar admittedly sat back and defended grimly, the Glory produced some good passing passages through midfield but couldn't find a way through to goal. As coach Dave Mitchell said, his players weren't sharp enough with their crosses and passing into the forward third, while speedy attacks were almost non-existent until the introduction of Todd Howarth, Jamie Harnwell and Tom Amphlett in the second half.
With striker Branko Jelic likely to miss two games with an ankle injury and Chris Coyne (back) missing from the defence for another week, Mitchell will again have to shuffle his line-up.
The coach has brought in Scott Bulloch after a two-week thigh-injury absence, while Jimmy Downey (knee) comes in for his first game this season.
Andrija Jukic has been included but Amphlett was curiously left out. Mitchell, though, is hopeful Bulloch and Downey's desperation to impress may give his side an edge against North Queensland and it wouldn't surprise to see Bulloch start up front, as the hard-running ex-cop adds defensive steel to the forward third.
A Mile Sterjovski-Victor Sikora combination up front is another possibility but the coach will also be more than aware Fury frontmen Robbie Fowler and Daniel McBreen will present his undermanned defence with a much greater challenge than the Roar did last week.
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, 16. Paul KOHLER, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 20. Justin PASFIELD (GK), 21.John TAMBOURAS, 22. Karl DODD, 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24 Dyron DAAL, 26 Matt SMITH, 27 Terry COOKE
*three to be omitted*
In: Chris TADROSSE (promoted) Karl DODD (promoted), Dyron DAAL (return from injury)
Out: Jacob TIMPANO (not selected), Beau BUSCH (not selected), Fred AGIUS (not selected), Osama MALIK (not selected)
Unavailable: Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite), James ROBINSON (knee- indefinite) Ufuk TALAY (calf - 4-6 weeks)
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Jimmy DOWNEY, 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC
*one to be omitted
In: Scott BULLOCH (return from injury), Jimmy DOWNEY (promoted), Andrija JUKIC (promoted)
Out: Branko JELIC (ankle - 2 weeks)
Unavailable: Chris COYNE (back - 1 week), Anthony SKORICH (foot - 4 weeks)