A-League preview: Adelaide v Mariners

Luis Garcia returns for a newly-enthused Central Coast Mariners as they visit fourth-placed Adelaide United on Sunday. Can the marquee man help prevent the Reds’ own Spanish stars from recapturing top form?

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners

Coopers Stadium, Adelaide

Kick-Off: 4:30 PM (Local) (5:00 PM (AEDT))

Referee: Stephen Lucas

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream

Assistant Referee 2: Stephen Toth

Fourth Official: Daniel Elder

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport X (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Coast FM 96.3 (Central Coast).

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #ADLvCCM

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets

Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 6.Stefan MAUK, 7.PABLO SANCHEZ, 8.ISAIAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 12.Mark OCHIENG, 14.George MELLS, 15.Ben WARLAND, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Mate DUGANDZIC, 20.John HALL (gk), 23.Jordan ELSEY, 24.Bruce KAMAU 

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 7.PABLO SANCHEZ (returns from injury), 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA (returns from injury), 23.Jordan ELSEY (returns from suspension)

Outs: 25.Ruon TONGYIK (omitted)

Unavailable: 19.Eli BABALJ (knee – season), 21.Tarek ELRICH (groin – 3-4 weeks)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Luis GARCIA, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 15.Brad McDONALD, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Francesco STELLA, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 28.Matthew FLETCHER, 30.Adam PEARCE (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 6.Mitch AUSTIN (return from suspension), 10.Luis GARCIA (return from suspension), 30.Adam PEARCE (gk) (promoted)

Outs: 25.Adam BERRY (knee – 1 week), 40.Thomas Heward-Belle (gk) (omitted)

Unavailable: 2.Storm ROUX (fractured fibula – season), 23.Tomislav USKOK (virus – 1 week)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Central Coast Mariners can claim fresh impetus for the final three rounds of the season following last weekend’s morale-boosting home draw against Sydney FC.

Late goals from Irish hitman Roy O’Donovan and young defender Harry Ascroft secured a stirring first point in seven matches.

The return of Luis Garcia from suspension is a further boost to the odds of an improbable upset, though the home side will rue even a draw against the competition’s confirmed wooden spooners.

Two straight matches without victory have halted Adelaide’s charge to the top and they now have little choice but to take maximum points.

While they remained unbroken at the back away to title rivals Western Sydney, a sudden two-match scoreless stretch needs to be addressed.

There’s no better opponent to do that against than the Hyundai A-League’s leakiest defence.

Since letting slip of a 1-0 lead to lose 3-2 in this fixture back in February, the Mariners have proceeded to concede 13 goals in five games while scoring only three in that time.

OPTA DATA

  • Adelaide United has won six of their last eight Hyundai A-League matches against the Mariners, though they had lost nine matches on the trot prior to that.
  • Central Coast Mariners have won only once away from home since the final regular season round of 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season (26 matches).
  • Having failed to score in their last two Hyundai A-League fixtures, the Reds will hope to avoid three straight games without a goal in a single season for the first time in their history.
  • The Mariners have contested more aerial duels (561) than any other team so far this Hyundai A-League season, though they’ve won only 45.3% of them, the lowest percentage of any team.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Following a burst of seven goals in two games, Adelaide have surprisingly been held scoreless across their past two outings.

Guillermo Amor’s outfit will again rely on a shared load in attack as the only top-four team without a regular goal-getter.

Pablo Sanchez’s six goals is enough to lead his club’s scoring charts after 24 rounds and both he and attacking midfielder Marcelo Carrusca have been named to return from injury.

The Reds should realistically have few troubles at the other end as Jordan Elsey, another inclusion, adds depth to the league’s finest defence.

Curiously, Central Coast Mariners were the last team to truly trouble Adelaide at the back when goals from Fabio Ferreira and Josh Bingham bookended a 3-2 defeat in Gosford.

Ferreira and Bingham both started last weekend but it was Roy O’Donovan who recaptured scoring form with a poacher’s finish sparking the home side’s comeback.

O’Donovan will be the focal point once more at Coopers Stadium and can look forward to support from Garcia and athletic wide-man Mitch Austin, who return from respective one-game suspensions.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Craig Goodwin. Having entered the thoughts of Caltex Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou, the in-form winger this week revealed his dreams for a European switch in the coming off-season.

FORM LINES

Adelaide United: WWWLD

Central Coast Mariners: LLLLD

PREDICTION

Adelaide United 3 – 1 Central Coast Mariners