Preview: Central Coast v Melbourne Victory
There may be a little bit of revenge on the menu for Melbourne Victory in Saturday's match against Central Coast at Bluetongue Stadium.
Date: Saturday December 12 Kick-off: 19:00 AEDT Venue: Bluetongue Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 HD and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is Coast FM 96.3 (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 14 A-League meetings: Melbourne Victory - 6 wins, Central Coast - 5 wins, Draws - 3
Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 4, Round 14, November 2009
Past Five Matches: Central Coast Mariners: Round 13: Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 0, Canberra Stadium Round 14: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 4, Etihad Stadium Round 15: North Queensland Fury 1, Central Coast Mariners 5, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 16: Central Coast Mariners 0, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 17: Gold Coast United 2, Central Coast Mariners 1, Skilled Park
Melbourne Victory: Round 13: Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Victory 2, ME Bank Stadium Round 14: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast Mariners 4, Etihad Stadium Round 15: Brisbane Roar 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 16: Melbourne Victory 4, Gold Coast United 0, Etihad Stadium Round 17: Wellington Phoenix 1, Melbourne Victory 1, Westpac Stadium
Analysis: There may be a little bit of revenge on the menu for Melbourne Victory in Saturday's match against Central Coast at Bluetongue Stadium. The Mariners have defeated the defending champions on two occasions this season, and are one of only two teams to have kept Melbourne scoreless during a game this season.
The Mariners have delivered two of the great upsets of the 2009-10 season by defeating Melbourne 2-0 in the season opener at Etihad Stadium and then doubling the dose with a 4-0 humbling of Victory only a month ago. That defeat was not only the club's worst of the year - it was its worst ever home loss.
So why have the Mariners performed so well against a Melbourne team which has only lost four of 17 matches for the entire season? Lawrie McKinna has admitted after both matches that his side was up for the challenge of taking on a competition powerhouse in front of its home fans.
The affable Scot has also delivered astute tactical changes which give his midfield more room to create chances against Melbourne. The opening game was a match where the Mariners scored two early goals and then sat on the lead, while the 4-0 scoreline was probably flattering in the other match as Melbourne spurned several chances to level at 1-0 before the visitors piled on the goals late.
McKinna must only hope his side could play like it does against Melbourne every week. Since that 4-0 win and a subsequent 5-1 away success over North Queensland, the Mariners have tapered off with a 0-0 draw against Perth and then a 2-1 defeat against Gold Coast.
Those past two matches have seen Central Coast slip into the habit of slowing the ball down too much and concentrate too much of keeping possession rather than pushing for scoring chances. Boasting arguably the form goalkeeper in the competition in Danny Vukovic and having conceded just 11 goals in 17 games this season, the Mariners are always tough to break down, but need to rediscover their confidence going forward.
Interestingly, McKinna has called on two of his big strikers, in Nik Mrdja and Dylan MacAllister, into his squad along with Matt Lewis, who impressed against Melbourne last time. Lewis should get his chance in the place of the injured Michael McGlinchey.
Melbourne has made just one change to its squad, with Nick Ward suspended and replaced by Mate Dugandzic. Dugandzic will likely slot in on the bench with Tom Pondeljak back in the starting line-up.
Victory is unbeaten in the three matches since that 4-0 defeat by Central Coast, narrowly prevailing over Brisbane, easily defeating Gold Coast before a character-filled 1-1 draw with Wellington. In that match, Melbourne went down a man and down a goal, but dug deep to secure a point thanks to Rody Vargas' late header.
If Melbourne takes a similarly accountable and determined approach to this match it will go a long way to securing a seventh away win in nine matches and get a measure of revenge for those defeats.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Brad PORTER, 5. Pedj BOJIC, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK. *two to be omitted*
In: Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Nik MRDJA (promoted), Dylan MACALLISTER (promoted)
Out: Michael McGLINCHEY (ankle - 1 week)
Unavailable: Chris DOIG (quad - 1 week)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27.Sutee SUKSOMKIT
In: Mate DUGANDZIC (promoted)
Out: Nick WARD (suspended, 1 week)
Unavailable: Marvin ANGULO (pending registration), Evan BERGER (hamstring, 5 weeks), Grant BREBNER (ankle, 5 weeks), Billy CELESKI (knee, season), Steven PACE (abdomen, indefinite)