Preview: Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners
The Glory desperately need to string some wins together if they are to challenge for a place in the top four but they're coming up against a Mariners side determined to consolidate its position at the top end of the table.
Preview: Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners
Date: Saturday November 29 Kick-off: 6:00pm local (8:00 pm AEDT) Venue: Members Equity Stadium TV and Radio:
Head-to-head 10 Hyundai A-League meetings: Perth - 1 win, Central Coast - 7 wins, Draws - 2.
Previous meeting Central Coast 4, Perth 1, Bluetongue Stadium, Round 6, September 2008
Past Five Games Perth Glory: Round 8: Perth Glory 2, Sydney FC 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 9: Adelaide Utd 2, Perth Glory 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 10: Perth Glory 2, Wellington Phoenix 0, Members Equity Stadium Round 11: Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 2, Members Equity Stadium Round 12: Queensland Roar 4, Perth Glory 1, Suncorp Stadium
Central Coast: Round 8: Central Coast 0, Wellington Phoenix 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 9: Central Coast 1, Newcastle Jets 0, Bluetongue Stadium 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 Mariners 1, Telstra Dome
Analysis The Glory desperately need to string some wins together if they are to challenge for a place in the top four but they're coming up against a Mariners side determined to consolidate its position at the top end of the table.
For Perth, though, the bonus is it's playing the next two matches at its home fortress, Members Equity Stadium, where it's only been beaten once this season by bogey side Queensland. However, the bad news for the Glory is that their leaky defence is facing two of the competition's highest-scoring clubs in Central Coast and Melbourne over the next two matches.
The Glory are still missing the defensive nous of centre back Hayden Foxe, the former Socceroo having only played two games for the club this season. Foxe is still expected to miss the next two matches after having a lump removed from his leg and his absence could prove particularly crucial against the three-pronged Mariners strike force of Sasho Petrovski, Dylan Macallister and joint Hyundai A-League top scorer Matt Simon, who has eight goals to his name.
Foxe aside, the Glory are fielding one of their strongest sides this season, with former Crystal Palace man Nick Rizzo returning to the left wing after a week's absence with a groin injury. Brazilian playmaker Amaral has also apparently recovered from a knee injury, while the versatile Scott Bulloch also slotted back into the squad.
The Glory may have lost 4-1 to the Roar last weekend, but the scoreline flattered the Queenslanders, who were outplayed during the first half before a mad minute on the verge of half-time saw the Glory concede two goals.
This has been the story of the Glory's year so far, as they have controlled general play in many of their games before a slight lapse in concentration at the back allows the opposition to score. But they can ill afford such lapses in this game as the Mariners have the firepower to punish them, as indicated by a 4-1 scoreline the last time these sides met.
The Mariners on the other hand are bringing a massive squad west as they attempt to get their season back on track after a 2-1 loss to Melbourne last Friday night.
In that match, Central Coast powered ahead through an exceptional John Hutchinson free kick that deceived everyone before the Victory countered with goals to former Mariner Tom Pondeljak and Archie Thompson.
That result has left the Mariners fourth on the Hyundai A-League table and vulnerable to Sydney and even Wellington below them. They are also six points adrift of competition leader Melbourne, with coach Lawrie McKinna appearing determined to overhaul the Victory before the end of the season.
Central Coast is welcoming several players back into the fold, with premier defender Dean Heffernan the most welcome addition. Heffernan has managed just 20 minutes in a Pre-Season cup match since horribly breaking his leg in the Christmas classic 5-4 loss to Sydney FC last December.
The former Socceroo is unlikely to play in the seniors but his appearance in the Mariners National Youth League side will be a welcome sight for McKinna as Central Coast has the third-worst defensive record in the league, having conceded 18 times.
Fortunately they have the best forward division in the competition with 24 goals to its credit, two more than Melbourne, and it will be this element which will cause the Glory the most headaches this week.
Against Melbourne, Central Coast attempted to bludgeon the Victory into submission through a series of long balls into the area and numerous corners. The weight of these opportunities against a suspect Glory defence could lead to a positive result for Central Coast, but if they give too much space to the dangerous Nikita Rukavytsya and concede early in the encounter, anything is possible.
Perth Glory Squad. 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 3.David TARKA, 4.Jamie COYNE (c), 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Nick RIZZO, 9.Adrian TRINIDAD, 10.AMARAL, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Frank JURIC (gk), 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 25.Marc ANTHONY *three to be omitted
In. Nick RIZZO (return from injury), AMARAL (return from injury), Scott BULLOCH (return from injury), Frank JURIC (promoted) Out. Jason PETKOVIC (omitted) Unavailable. Josip MAGDIC (ankle - season), James ROBINSON (abdomen - 5 weeks), Hayden FOXE (leg - 2 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners Squad. 2.Andre GUMPRECHT, 5.Bradley PORTER, 6.David D'APUZZO, 7.John HUTCHINSON, 8.Dean HEFFERNAN, 9.Nik MRDJA, 10.Adrian CACERES, 11.Dylan MACALLISTER, 12.Greg OWENS, 13.Paul O'GRADY, 15.Andrew CLARK, 16.Nigel BOOGAARD, 17.Matthew OSMAN, 18.Alex WILKINSON (c), 19.Matt SIMON, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22.Sasho PETROVSKI, 23.Mile JEDINAK, 26.Chris TADROSSE, 30.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk) *five to be omitted
In. Dean HEFFERNAN (Returns from Injury), Greg OWENS (Returns from Injury), Paul O'GRADY (Returns from Injury), Andrew CLARK (Returns from Injury), Chris TADROSSE (Promoted), 6.David D'APUZZO (promoted) Out. Pedj BOJIC (Suspended - 1 week) Unavailable. Ahmad ELRICH (Knee - Season)