Matchday preview: Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar

Grim times in Gosford; better times in Brizzy. And with Roar's ripper record on the Central Coast the Orange Army should be confident heading into this post-Christmas clash with Moss' Mariners.

MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 27 December 2014
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Kick-Off:  5pm (Local), (5pm AEDST)

Referee: Matthew Conger

Squads

Central Coast Mariners  1. Matt NASH (Gk), 2. Storm ROUX, 3. Josh ROSE, 4. Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5. Zac ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 10. Anthony CACERES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 15. Matt SIM, 17. Richard VERNES, 18. Glen TRIFIRO, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Anthony KALIK, 25. Eddy BOSNAR, 26. KIM Seung-yong

***two to be omitted***

Ins  4. Jacob POSCOLIERO (promoted), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY (returns from injury), 23. Isaka CERNAK (promoted) 

Outs  21. Michael NEILL (injury – indefinite) 

Unavailable  6. Brent Griffiths (injury – indefinite), 21. Michael Neill (injury – indefinite)

Brisbane Roar  3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 4.Adam SAROTA, 5.Corey BROWN, 7.Mensur KURTISHI, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 10.HENRIQUE, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Devante CLUT, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 18.Luke BRATTAN, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 30.Matt ACTON (gk), 34.Shannon BRADY

***two to be omitted***

Ins  3.Shane STEFANUTTO (return from injury), 16.Devante CLUT (promoted), 34.Shannon BRADY (promoted)

Outs  2.Matt SMITH (transfer)

Unavailable  1.Michael THEO (wrist – 2 weeks), 6.George LAMBADARIDIS (knee – indefinite), 19.Jack HINGERT (knee – 2 weeks), 22.Thomas BROICH (ankle – 5 weeks)

Broadcast coverage

TV -  Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 4.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)

Radio -  Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app. Coast FM

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Two of the A-League’s most successful clubs in recent years haven’t enjoyed the best start to this campaign and meet in a real season-defining clash. The Mariners are still searching for a second win of the season – the first coming way back in October – while Brisbane look to be coming out of their slump, with seven points from a possible 12 under new boss Frans Thijssen. 

Central Coast’s home record against Brisbane is horrible, losing 10 times in 16 games against the defending champions in Gosford. 

With young defender Michael Neill out injured, Mariners boss Phil Moss will need to make at least one change at left-back, with Josh Rose – who has played centrally recently – like to shift out to the flank. It means either Jacob Poscoliero or Eddy Bosnar will come in at centre-back. 

Veteran midfielder Nick Montgomery also returns and is likely to slot straight back into the middle of the park alongside skipper John Hutchinson. Shane Stefanutto is back for Brisbane after more than a month out with a groin problem. It will be interesting to see if Roar bring in the veteran straight in at left back or stick with youngster Corey Brown who has performed well in his absence. Henrique was forced off injured in Roar’s last fixture but has been named in a huge boost for the visitors given his impressive record in front of goal this season.

OPTA DATA STATS

-The Mariners have won just two of their 16 home meetings with Brisbane (D4 L10), though these victories have come inside the last three meetings at Central Coast Stadium.

-Four of Brisbane Roar’s last five A-League games have ended in a 1-0 scoreline, two wins and two defeats.

-Roar’s last six away A-League games have alternated between defeat and victory, winning their last away game at Adelaide.

-Mariners have attempted 5122 passes this season; only their opponents Brisbane have attempted more (5205).

ROUTE TO GOAL

With the exception of the Wanderers – who have played two fewer games – the Mariners have scored the least goals in the A-League. Moss’ side has little trouble building up through defence and midfield but seem to hit a wall when they get into their opponent’s danger-zone. Matt Simon is the only one looking likely to score. Nick Fitzgerald and Richie Vernes have shown glimpses but have yet to really cash-in.

Brazilian Henrique has been Roar’s chief threat with seven goals for the season but Thijssen will be hoping for more thrust from other areas. Dimitri Petratos has yet to trouble the scorers this season while it’s time for the likes of Brandon Borrello, Jean Carlos Solorzano and Mensur Kurtishi to start delivering.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Matt McKay. It’s been some few days for McKay, first named new skipper of Brisbane following Matt Smith’s departure, signing a two-year contract extension and also being selected in the Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup. Without Smith and injured duo Thomas Broich and Michael Theo, McKay is one of the most experienced players left in Roar’s starting XI and still has a huge role to play in the team’s success. Expect another tireless, no-frills display from the 31-year-old who always leads by example. It’s up to the rest of his team-mates to go with him if they are to continue their recent improvement.

FORM LINES

It’s grim reading for Mariners fans. Their side hasn’t won in any of its last 10 matches and is coming off a crushing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Perth Glory last weekend. Brisbane come into this clash fresh following a week off and having won two of their last three games, both tough 1-0 road wins against the Wanderers and Adelaide United respectively.

DID YOU KNOW?

There has not been a 0-0 draw between these sides since September 2006, a run of 30 A-League games.

PREDICTION:
 Central Coast Mariners 1-0 Brisbane Roar FC

It’s been a week of soul-searching for a Mariners outfit who are seriously hurting from their horror run of form. They have performed fairly well in patches in most games but as is often the case with struggling sides, things tend to go against you when times are tough. All Moss and his squad want for Christmas is three points and against a Roar side that probably isn’t playing as well as their recent results suggests, the home side might just get a perfect – and timely - gift.