Weekly Warm up: Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix

Can the Mariners get their journey to the Premier's Plate back on course with a win over ladder rivals Wellington?

Can the Mariners get their journey to the Premier's Plate back on course with a win over ladder rivals Wellington?

It's time for Central Coast Mariners to stand up and be counted. With another tough game this Saturday, the players and fans of the ladder leaders can all play their part in showing that the Yellow & Navy are not about to blow it.

Every club is allowed a dip in form over the course of a season, but the Mariners need to show that their dodgy spell is over and that they are ready to push on to glory.

A win over Wellington would bring the league title a step closer. If you want your players to show dedication, passion and spirit in this massive match-up, then you must do exactly the same from the stands.

Last weekend, the Yellow & Navy suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in the Hyundai A-League 2011/12 season.

Goals from Carlos Hernandez and Harry Kewell did the damage in Melbourne after the away side had taken an early lead. While the result was a disappointing follow-up to the loss against Brisbane Roar a week earlier, there was one particular positive to take from the match, namely the performance of Tom Rogic.

The former Australia Futsal representative and Nike Chance winner had a blinding game, opening the scoring with a left-foot strike across Ante Covic after dancing through the Victory defence and then almost scoring twice more in a frenetic first-half.

Another plus point was the way the team reacted to losing Trent Sainsbury to a harsh red card. Despite their numerical disadvantage, they were unlucky not to snatch an equaliser.

While the Mariners' are crawling to the Premier's Plate rather than sprinting, they can at least extinguish the burning embers of one of their competitors' title hopes. A win over Wellington Phoenix would make it all but impossible for them to be caught by the side from New Zealand. This would leave it as a two horse race for the top-spot, between themselves and the old enemy, Brisbane Roar.

Talking of the Roar, they halted Wellington's winning run with a vital 2-0 victory at Westpac Stadium.

The defeat - which came about thanks to goals from Besart Berisha and substitute Mitch Nichols - saw Phoenix fall back into third place, leapfrogged by the side from Queensland. W

hile they might not have a realistic chance of finishing top of the tree this season, a decent result against the Central Coast is crucial if they are to avoid losing ground on second place. With rivals Roar hitting some really strong form, Wellington need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

If they are to pick up a result in Gosford and subject the home side to an unprecedented third straight loss, then they will have to do it without Andrew Durante and Tim Brown, who both picked up their fifth bookings of the season in the loss to Roar and will serve a one-match suspension each.

Ricki Herbert - who is used to having selection headaches this season, will also be sweating on the fitness of centre back Ben Sigmund, who limped off last weekend. Meanwhile, the Mariners will be without the suspended Trent Sainsbury.

It's another six-pointer in Gosford and one that Central Coast Mariners desperately need to win. So be there for this absolutely crucial battle and help Graham Arnold's players rediscover the winning feeling that has taken them to within touching distance of the Premier's Plate.

This game will have a huge impact on the rest of the Hyundai A-League 2011/12 season, so do not even think about missing it!