A-League preview: Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners

Nothing but a win will do against Central Coast Mariners. Can Roar use this Hyundai A-League Round 24 Easter fixture to resurrect their flickering finals hopes or will the rejuvenated Mariners spoil Thursday night's party in Brisie?

MATCH DETAILS

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Kick-Off: 7pm (Local) 8pm AEDT)

SQUADS

Brisbane Roar FC 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 4.Adam SAROTA, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 9.ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 16.Devante CLUT, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 26.Lachlan JACKSON, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 34.Shannon BRADY, 36.Fraser CHALMERS (gk)

Ins 34.Shannon BRADY (promoted)

Outs 2.Jerome POLENZ (groin – 4 weeks)

Unavailable 1.Michael THEO (groin – 1 week), 10.HENRIQUE (knee – 8 weeks), 22.Thomas BROICH (ankle – 1 week)

Central Coast Mariners 1.Matthew NASH (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 6.Brent GRIFFITHS, 7.John HUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (gk), 14.Travis MAJOR, 15.Mathew SIM, 16.Liam ROSE, 18.Glen TRIFIRO, 20.Anthony KALIK, 23.Isaka CERNAK, 24.Hayden MORTON, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Fabio FERREIRA ***two to be omitted***

Ins 6.Brent GRIFFITHS (promoted), 14.Travis MAJOR (promoted)

Outs Nil

Unavailable 2.Storm ROUX (international duty), 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (hamstring – 1 week), 17.Richard VERNES (shoulder – indefinite), 21.Michael NEILL (foot – indefinite), 19.Matt Simon (groin – indefinite)

Hashtag: #BRIvCCM

TV broadcast – Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 8.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio broadcast – Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.

Referee Kazuyoshi Enomoto (JPN)

Assistant Referee 1 Nathan MacDonald

Assistant Referee 2 Anton Shchetinin

Fourth Official Alex King

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

It’s been a tough few weeks for Roar who has gone from looking like finals certainties to now fighting for their top-six lives. 

A hectic fixture list, AN abandoned game against Wellington as well as the loss of key players to injury and international duty certainly hasn’t helped their cause. 

But while there is life there is hope for Frans Thijssen’s side and there’s no doubt they have the quality to win enough matches to increase the pressure on City. 

The Mariners have shown signs of improvement since Tony Walmsley took charge and will fancy their chances against a confidence-sapped Brisbane outfit. They are playing without fear, have some dangerous attacking threats and pushed title-favourites Melbourne Victory all the way last weekend. 

After an encouraging display against Victory, Mariners boss Tony Walmsley should stick with the same XI also, especially with right-back Storm Roux still absent due to his exploits with the New Zealand national side.

There’s still no Thomas Broich or Michael Theo due to injury meaning there is unlikely to be too many changes to the Roar side which lost to City last weekend. Youngster Shannon Brady – fresh from signing a new deal with the club – is in the squad and could be included to inject some energy. 

OPTA DATA STATS

-Central Coast has won just one of their last five Hyundai A-League encounters with Brisbane. Roar has lost their last four games in a row and they last lost five consecutive games back in December 2011.

-Central Coast Mariners are the only Hyundai A-League side yet to win on the road (D6 L5) this season.

-Roar has conceded 12 goals in their last four matches, as many as they conceded in their 11 Hyundai A-League matches prior to this run.

-Only Adelaide (59 percent) have a better average possession this season than Brisbane (56.6 percent). Roar has had superior possession than their opponents in each of their last 12 Hyundai A-League games.

A feature of the Mariners’ play since Walmsley took over is their high-pressing game. There’s no longer any sitting back trying to soak up pressure, Central Coast are working hard to win the ball back higher up the field and as a result they are forcing mistakes and getting more opportunities in transition. 

One player who is certainly benefitting from that is Isaka Cernak who is arguably in career-best form. He grabbed aa goal against Victory last weekend and is forming a dangerous partnership with the likes of Nick Fitzgerald, Anthony Caceres and Fabio Ferreira. Roar have gone off the boil over the last few weeks. The absence of Thomas Broich and Henrique hasn’t helped their cause in front of goal.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Isaka Cernak. The journeyman midfielder broke a long goal-scoring drought away to Melbourne Victory last weekend but it was just reward for a string of promising displays in recent weeks. At his sixth Hyundai A-League club (he began at Roar) here’s hoping the talented Cernak has found a home to finally show some consistency to go with his undoubted talent. Can he maintain the rage against his hometown club?

FORM LINES

Brisbane Roar FC LLLLW

Central Coast Mariners LDLWD

Roar’s finals hopes took a severe blow as they were edged out 1-0 by fellow top six aspirants Melbourne City last weekend. It was their fourth loss in a row in the Hyundai A-League, leaving them eight points outside the top six although they have a game in hand. The plucky Mariners gave a good account of themselves against Melbourne Victory in their last outing but were eventually overrun to lose 2-1. 

DID YOU KNOW?

No Central Coast Mariners player has scored more than three goals this Hyundai A-League season (Matt Simon, Mitchell Duke and Fabio Ferreira all on three).

PREDICTION

Brisbane Roar FC 2-1 Central Coast Mariners

With this being the last chance for Roar to keep up the pressure on City for a finals berth, I’m expecting the home side to shade it. They are desperate for the points and have already shown this season they have the Mariners’ measure.