Preview: Perth Glory v Central Coast
Perth Glory have the chance to qualify for their first Hyundai A-League finals campaign in this encounter, but to do so need to beat one of their bogey sides, the Central Coast Mariners.
Date: Sunday January 31 Kick-off: 4:00pm AWST, 7:00pm AEDT Venue: ME Bank Stadium TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, 1 HD and Sky Sport 3. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is 6PR (Perth) 882AM and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.
Head-to-head 14 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Perth 1, Central Coast 9, Draws 4
Previous Meeting Central Coast 0, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium, Round 16, November 2009
Last five rounds: Perth Glory: Round 21: Perth Glory 4, Newcastle Jets 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 22: Perth Glory 0, Sydney FC 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 23: Melbourne Victory 6, Perth Glory 2, Etihad Stadium Round 19: Adelaide United 2, Perth Glory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 24: Perth Glory 2, Wellington Phoenix 0, ME Bank Stadium
Central Coast Mariners: Round 19: Central Coast Mariners 0, Sydney FC 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Wellington Phoenix 2, Bluetongue Stadium Round 22: Central Coast Mariners 1, North Queensland 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 23: Adelaide United 1, Central Coast Mariners 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 24: Central Coast Mariners 1, Gold Coast United 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis: Perth Glory have the chance to qualify for their first Hyundai A-League finals campaign in this encounter, but to do so need to beat one of their bogey sides, the Central Coast Mariners.
Indeed, for the first five seasons of the new competition, matches between these two teams have been about as predictable as an Afghani election, the Mariners having won nine of the 14 games to just one from the Glory. The pattern goes right back to the very first game of the new competition on Friday August 26 2005 when Perth went down to Central Coast 1-0 thanks to a goal from inaugural Mariners' skipper Noel Spencer. In that season, just as Perth appeared to be hitting its old NSL best, they copped a 4-0 thumping from Central Coast in Round 8, while the Glory's only win against the Gosford-based club occurred on Sunday September 3, 2006. The three year plus winless streak is currently the longest in the league between sides and the Glory will need to overcome this long history at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon to ensure there are no slip ups over the last three rounds.
Added to the history, is the fact Lawrie McKinna's men all-but destroyed any hope of Perth playing in last season's finals when they beat the Glory 1-0 on New Year's Eve. This time it's the Glory's chance to repay the favour as a win against Central Coast will all-but spell the end for the Mariners this season.
Much will depend on the match between Wellington and Adelaide earlier in the day, though. A win to the sixth-placed Phoenix (currently on 31 points) at Westpac Stadium will see Wellington move seven points clear of Central Coast (27) ahead of kick-off, meaning the Mariners need to win their last three to have any mathematical hope. A loss or draw by Wellington against the Reds, means the Mariners can mathematically afford one draw. The Glory, on 33 points, appears almost safe from challenges from below, but will certainly be looking for a win in order to continue the good run of form that's seen them beat Adelaide and Wellington in the last week.
Despite their good form since suffering a 6-2 thrashing by Melbourne, the Glory have some injury issues going into the encounter. Skipper Jacob Burns has hardly trained all week and must be in some doubt, with his midfield position possibly available to Adriano Pellegrino or Andrija Jukic if Burns is not fit. But aside from Burns, the Glory are travelling fairly well with Victor Sikora (thigh) and Wayne Srhoj (knee) both a week away. Striker Branko Jelic has also been included in the extended squad after missing last week's clash with Wellington with a flare up of a troublesome ankle injury. Jelic is joined by youngsters Scott Neville and Tommy Amphlett in the squad.
Having seen his side dominate a physical 1-1 draw with Gold Coast United, already dubbed the Battle of the Coasts, coach McKinna has been forced into one change, replacing suspended defender Nigel Boogaard with Nicky Travis in the travelling party. Regardless of the squad, McKinna will be desperately hoping his side can regain the winning mentality in time for a late push as the Mariners haven't won since destroying North Queensland 5-1 in late November. Indeed, it seems the Glory started the rot somewhat as Perth held Central Coast to a 0-0 draw the very next round as the Mariners went from contenders to pretenders over the next two months. But as history shows Central Coast often finds ways to beat Perth. It did it earlier this season in Round 5 in Canberra, when an uncharacteristic error from Tando Velaphi allowed Central Coast to score a late winner and one win from 14 games is enough to make any Perth fan nervous when Lawrie McKinna heads west.
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Danny McBreen, 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 6.Chris COYNE, 7. Jacob BURNS (c), 11. Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC, 28. Tommy AMPHLETT *three to be omitted*
In: Branko JELIC (promoted), Scott NEVILLE (promoted), Tommy AMPHLETT (promoted)
Unavailable: Wayne SRHOJ (knee - 1 week), Viktor SIKORA (thigh - 1 week)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK.
In: Nicky TRAVIS (promoted)
Out: Nigel BOOGAARD (suspended - 1 week)
Unavailable: Nigel BOOGAARD (suspended), Ahmad ELRICH (ankle - indefinite)