A weary Sky Blues outfit absolutely must win to keep their fading finals hopes a kick-start, but will find it tough against a Mariners outfit desperate to give their long-suffering fans something to cheer about in Gosford on Saturday.
Saturday, 19 March 2016
Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-Off: 5:15 PM (Local) (5:15 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Koichiro Fukushima (Japan)
Assistant Referee 1: Lance Greenshields
Assistant Referee 2: James Tesoriero
Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Coast FM 96.3 (Central Coast)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #CCMvSYD
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 15.Brad McDONALD, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Francesco STELLA, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 23.Tomislav USKOK, 25.Adam BERRY, 28.Matthew FLETCHER, 30.Adam PEARCE (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 12.Trent BUHAGIAR (promoted), 17.Francesco STELLA (promoted), 21.Michael NEILL (return from suspension), 25.Adam BERRY (promoted)
Outs : 6.Mitch AUSTIN (suspended – 1 week), 10.Luis GARCIA (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: 2.Storm Roux (fractured fibula – season)
Sydney FC squad : 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Rob STAMBOLZIEV, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Chris NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Ali ABBAS, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 25.Aaron CALVER, 27.Mickael TAVARES
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 7.Andrew HOOLE (promoted), 11.Chris NAUMOFF (promoted), 18.Matt SIMON (promoted)
Outs: 10.Milos NINKOVIC (ankle – 1 week)
Unavailable: 14.Alex BROSQUE (hamstring – 5 weeks)
Last weekend, Sydney FC’s first half capitulation against the Phoenix has put their Hyundai A-League campaign on the brink.
The Sky Blues are now three points adrift of the top six with four games left.
Graham Arnold’s men have now failed to win in their last eight league outings.
And their task hasn’t been made any easier after a multi-leg flight to and from South Korea this week.
Though a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Pohang Steelers on Wednesday night in ACL will have brightened the mood, this punishing travel schedule will test the squad’s recovery with the Sky Blues arriving back in the Harbour City on Friday morning.
The Mariners’ loss to the Glory last weekend confirmed the club’s first ever wooden spoon, with Tony Walmsley’s side 13 points adrift of ninth placed Wellington.
The hosts will be without Mitch Austin and Luis Garcia after the duo were dismissed in Perth, while defender Tomislav Uskok is likely to miss with a lower leg injury.
Central Coast will be buoyed by their strong recent home record against the Sky Blues, with the Yellow and Navy winning five and drawing three of their last 10 matches in Gosford.
– Sydney FC have won their last five matches against Central Coast Mariners, the longest streak of any team in the history of this fixture.
– The Mariners have conceded 70% of their goals in the second half of league games (39 goals) – 14 goals more than any other club.
– After consecutive losses Sydney FC sit on the precipice of three straight defeats for the first time since Round 4, 2013/14.
– Only once before in A-League history (5 matches, 2005/06 Final – Rd 4, 2006/07) have Central Coast gone more matches without scoring a goal than they currently have (3 games).
ROUTE TO GOAL
Both sides have struggled in front of goal this season with Central Coast (26 goals) and Sydney (28 goals) the league’s second and third worst attacking sides respectively, ahead of only Newcastle Jets (21).
The loss of Milos Ninkovic appeared to stifle Sydney’s attacking output last weekend and they will be hoping the likes of David Carney and Milos Dimitrijevic can provide some much needed thrust in the final third.
Carney and Shane Smeltz are fresh after missing the trip to Pohang and will almost certainly start across the front three.
Marquee Filip Holosko is also likely to return to the starting line-up after being relegated to the bench last weekend against Wellington.
The Mariners will be forced into a reshuffle with the absence of suspended duo Mitch Austin and Luis Garcia.
Josh Bingham, Brad McDonald and the speedy Trent Buhagiar are options for Tony Walmsley on the flank, while Liam Rose is likely to slot into the vacant playmaker role.
Central Coast have failed to score in their last three matches and will look to the experience of Roy O’Donovan and Fabio Ferreira to provide a spark up top.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Mariners’ discipline. Luis Garcia and Mitch Austin picked up needless red cards against the Glory, taking the side’s tally to a league-worst nine dismissals in 23 matches this season.
Central Coast Mariners: LLLLL
Sydney FC: LDDLL
Central Coast Mariners 1 Sydney FC 1