Central Coast Mariners will look to get their A-League season back on track tonight when they face Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium. The Mariners have lost three games in a row, and a season of departures and introductions appears to be catching up with them. However there is no easing of the pressure with the Asian Champions League commencing next week meaning that the Mariners will play three games over the next eight days.
Last Friday night’s loss to Adelaide was also an expensive one in terms of suspensions, with Joshua Rose, Nick Fitzgerald and Matt Simon each collecting a fifth yellow card of the season – and with it a one match suspension. Brent Griffiths is also suspended as a result of a red card picked up in the Youth League last week.
Tom Slater and Isaka Cernak are among a group of players promoted to the squad as cover. Better news for the Mariners is that Kim Seung-Yong is a confirmed starter against Wellington after making his debut as a second half substitute in Adelaide.
Wellington had been in superb form of late but that came to a shuddering halt on Sunday with a 5-0 loss to Melbourne Heart. The Mariners will need to nullify the influence of Carlos Hernandez, something Heart managed with great effect on Sunday.
The Phoenix are without Albert Riera who will miss the rest of the season after groin surgery. Since the defensive midfielder succumbed to the injury they have conceded seven goals in two games. After last week’s shambolic display coach Ernie Merrick has hinted that a defensive reshuffle is on the cards.
Friday 21st February, Bluetongue Stadium Gosford 19:30
Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix