Smeltz can be the X-factor

Gold Coast defender Michael Thwaite believes the impending return of prolific goal-scorer Shane Smeltz could be the final piece the club need to be a major threat for the A-League title.

Gold Coast defender Michael Thwaite believes the impending return of prolific goal-scorer Shane Smeltz could be the final piece the club need to be a major threat for the A-League title.

Smeltz, who was last year's A-League Golden Boot winner, is set to return to the club in coming weeks as their second marquee man for the remainder of the season after struggling to make an impact at Turkish club Genclerberligi.

The return of the 29-year-old would be a massive boost for Miron Bleiberg's side, who have now gone four games without a win following Saturday night's disappointing 2-0 loss to Sydney FC.

On top of their loss of form the club are without influential midfielder Jason Culina who is away on international duty with the Socceroos at the Asian Cup, while Brazilian playmaker Robson is also set for a sting on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury against the Sky Blues.

The fourth-placed Gold Coast have built their success this season on the league's stingiest defence but have struggled at the other end with just 27 goals in 22 matches this season and Smeltz could add some much needed firepower to a mis-firing attack.

"We love him, we love him as a person and we love him as a player," Thwaite said of the New Zealand international striker.

"He's a winner, he's got instinct for goal that no other player has in front of goal in the A-League.

"He hasn't played for a while but he'll be looking to improve things as well."

"Last year Smeltzy scored 19 goals and this year we've shared them around which is a good thing."

"With the addition of the playmaker from Germany (Peter Perchtold) and obviously Smeltzy I think the other defenders will be wetting themselves."

Despite starting brightly against Sydney, Gold Coast rarely threatened the Sky Blues back four and were undone by goals to teenager Dimitri Petratos and Finnish striker Juho Makela.

While admitting his side were second best on the night, Gold Coast boss Miron Bleiberg was incensed by the second half dismissal of defender Steve Fitzsimmons when the score was still 1-0.

Fitzsimmons was shown a straight red card by referee Chris Beath for a lunging tackle from behind on Sydney midfielder Hiro Moriyasu, although replays showed there was little contact.

Bleiberg refused to shake hands with the whistleblower at full-time and felt the send-off scuppered any chance his side had of working their way back into the contest.

"It was a soft red card as far as I can see and it was just as soft as the penalty we conceded against the Roar which was the same referee incidentally," Bleiberg said.

"We had to do a tactical adjustment and in the end when you play without a playmaker, with 10 men and with a forward line that's basically a youth league forward line what chance do you have."

Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka, whose own future remains up in the air, paid tribute to Petratos who grabbed the vital first goal - his maiden A-League strike - with a spectacular effort in the first half.

"Full credit to him not only for tonight with his spectacular goal and good performance but we knew him from the last season too," Lavicka said of the 18-year-old who is off-contract at the end of the season.

"He played for the FC youth team and sometimes trained with us. This season he has improved a lot so we gave him chance to play for first grade and he's taken his chance."

"Everything is set up for him to sign him a first grade contract now."