Central Coast Mariners stand in the way of Sydney FC extending their club record A-League winning streak to five games. The two sides meet tonight at Bluetongue Stadium with Sydney sitting in third spot on the ladder, and the Mariners looking to climb back into the top four.
Sydney will have to do without Marquee man Alessandro Del Piero, who announced on Twitter this week that his hamstring is ‘fatigued’. He hopes to be fit to face Melbourne Heart next week, but a scan on Wednesday will determine if the injury is more serious.
The last time that Del Piero left the field injured it took Sydney three games to score their next goal. This time they managed to get two in twenty minutes in the win over Newcastle, demonstrating that they are no longer so reliant on the Italian. Ranko Despotovic has been confirmed by coach Frank Farina as a starter in place of Del Piero after scoring two goals in two games from the bench.
The Mariners have been steady if not spectacular so far this season. Their current form shows only one win in four games, but they have also only suffered one defeat in seven. Mariners fans would have been disappointed with their team’s performance last week against Melbourne Victory. It is not often that they look so flat, but they still didn’t lose and Phil Moss will possibly make some changes to the line up this time around to re-energise his team. Goal scoring has been the main issue for Central Coast this season with only eight registered so far – three of which are penalties.
Defence has been a problem for Sydney for a long time now, but there are signs that they are improving. Only one goal has been conceded by the Sky Blues in the last three games, and that was while playing with ten men. Pedj Bojic returns from suspension, although he may not start against his old club as the Sydney’s defence looked very solid in his absence last week.
With the Mariners problems in front of goal, and Sydney’s improved defensive record, this game should be very different to the 7-2 thrashing Central Coast handed the Sky Blues in Gosford last season. A win tonight for Sydney will strengthen their claims to be genuine contenders this sesaon.