Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC meet at Bluetongue Stadium tonight with both sides under pressure to maintain their challenge for A-League finals spots. The Mariners’ loss in the Asian Champions League in midweek took their losing run to five games, while Frank Farina still finds himself under pressure in the Sydney FC hot seat despite guiding his side to wins in their last two games.
The rivalry between the two clubs has been stirred by the Mariners taking a game to North Sydney Oval earlier this year. There is still talk of increasing the number of games switched from Gosford in future seasons, but Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow recently said he would vigorously oppose any increase in Mariners games at North Sydney.
Because of the Mariners’ previous successes in the A-League you always expect them to turn around the indifferent form they have suffered for large parts of this season. However, it is a sobering thought that last week they were soundly beaten by Wellington Phoenix, a team who have been thrashed by 5 goals either side of that game.
Matt Simon, Josh Rose, Nick Fitzgerald and Brent Griffiths all return to the Mariners squad after serving suspensions against Wellington. The Mariners have won both previous games by a 1-0 score line this season, and they will gladly take a repeat in this encounter.
Sydney have not won in Gosford since 2008, but perhaps have their best chance of breaking that streak with their opponents in such poor form. The Sky Blues have recorded two wins in a row following that catastrophic night against Adelaide three weeks ago, although their performances in those wins were not wholly convincing.
Richard Garcia is in contention to return to the side after overcoming niggling injuries. However it may be difficult to force his way into a frontline where Corey Gameiro, Ranko Despotovic and Alessandro Del Piero have played well in the last few games.
Saturday 1st March, Bluetongue Stadium Gosford 17:30
Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC