Travel catches up with Gold Coast

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg believes the weekend journey to Perth was the straw that broke the camel's back after a packed schedule ended with a tired 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Central Coast Mariners.

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg believes the weekend journey to Perth was the straw that broke the camel's back after a packed schedule ended with a tired 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Central Coast Mariners.

Backing up just two days after returning from across the Nullarbor, United looked to have shrugged off the weariness of travel in the opening stages of Wednesday night's game at Skilled Park, but soon hit a wall and fell to a strong and ruthless Mariners side.

The match was originally slated for December last year but had to be moved after a deluge of rain and Skilled Park's shocking surface combined to force an abandonment. With an already intense calendar leading up to the finals there was no good time for United to play.

Though he took nothing away from the brilliant Central Coast, Bleiberg said his side would come to appreciate the reality check and regroup as finals football approaches.

"We were emotionally and physically drained. On Tuesday we had training in the afternoon but it was more massages and ice baths. Then we showed up to the game today without a real training session and it looked like it," he said.

"They didn't come from Perth. They trained and waited in the hotel for the poor guys to land from the aeroplane and come with matches in their eyes. They caught us."

"But they're second for a reason and we are fourth for a reason and there is no excuse. Now we know exactly where we are standing. It's the type of game where you just cop it on the chin because there's nobody to blame. The better team won and so be it."

The match ended Gold Coast's faint hopes for second spot, but they can still manage third on the ladder if Adelaide draw or lose to Melbourne Victory on Friday night and Gold Coast find a way to slay premiers Brisbane Roar on Saturday.

But the result of the Reds' game will determine whether or not Bleiberg rushes a host of injured stars including Bruce Djite, Bas van den Brink and Zenon Caravella back into the squad for the M1 Derby.

"If Adelaide lose on Friday night we will go full on for it. If they win, then you're playing only for prestige. It's an important game because we've never lost to the Roar but you have to measure it," he said.

"If none of them are 100 percent and you play against the Roar and they go backwards with their recovery you might as well cop it against the Roar and keep them for the finals."

"But whether we finish third or fourth doesn't matter. If you look at the history of sports in Australia and the football codes, whether it's rugby league or rugby union or Aussie Rules, I don't think anyone in their first and second year has finished in the top four."

"We were beaten today but we should feel good that in our first two years we have done what we've done."