For the first time since the foundation of the A-League a fixture will be played at North Sydney Oval when Central Coast Mariners host Wellington Phoenix on Thursday night. The Mariners have moved the fixture from their traditional base in Gosford to try and build upon their existing fan base in Sydney’s northern suburbs – which already accounts for twenty per cent of their overall figure.
It is now more than ten years since Northern Spirit played their last game at North Sydney Oval, with the venue not hosting another professional football match until now. Current Mariners coach Phil Moss is in fact a former Spirit player, and there are also many connections between the Spirit and Mariners at board level.
Originally a round six fixture, moved due to Phoenix players being involved in New Zealand’s Word Cup playoff, the scheduling is also designed to attract commuters who travel between the city and Central Coast regions. It is well known that these fans struggle to get to a 7:30pm kick off in Gosford. The success of this match will determine any future plans for more Mariners games in North Sydney, although Sydney FC have already voiced their opposition.
The Mariners need to bounce back after a shock 4-0 loss in Adelaide last weekend. It would be an even bigger upset if the Phoenix were to score their first win of season in this fixture, but the Mariners still need to be wary of the threat posed by the like of Carlos Hernandez and Jeremy Brockie.
While the focus on the result in Adelaide centered around the defence, Moss will be looking for a better display from his attacking players. Daniel McBreen in particular has a good record against Wellington, and will be looking to extend his current run of a goal in each of his last three games against the Kiwi’s.
Thursday 19th December 2013, North Sydney Oval 19:30
Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix