Perth Glory will be aiming to play the role of party poopers when they confront a Central Coast team on the rebound in Saturday night’s A-League preliminary final at Bluetongue Stadium.
The Mariners won the Premier’s Plate for topping the table but missed the chance to host the grand final after losing their two-leg semi-final series to Brisbane.
Perth notched wins over Melbourne Heart and Wellington Phoenix to reach the preliminary final, but must break a worrying hoodoo if they are to progress through to the grand final.
In 10 matches at Bluetongue Stadium, Glory have lost nine and drawn one.
But Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who spent five seasons at the Mariners, said the pressure would be squarely on the shoulders of his former club in the do-or-die clash.
“It’s all on them. They finished first after the regular season, they’re expected to be in the grand final and we’re going to go over there to try to ruin their party,” Vukovic said.
“In the last two games we played, we were expected to win but, in this one, the Mariners are expected to win so we can go over there with no pressure on our shoulders and without anything to lose.
“We know they’re a well-drilled team.
“They’re probably going to defend with all 11 players, so it will probably be a pretty cagey affair to start.
“There’ll probably be few chances but, when we get those chances, we’ll need to take them. I think we need to be a little bit better in defence as well.”
Bluetongue Stadium was a happy hunting ground for Vukovic during his Mariners days, and the 27-year-old urged his Glory teammates not to be overawed by the venue despite the club’s horrendous record there.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a tough place,” Vukovic said.
“The crowds that they get aren’t huge and they’re not a very vocal crowd. I played there and loved my time there, but there’s a lot more daunting places to go to in the A-League.
“I know a lot of people there and I’ve still got a lot of friends in the team so it’ll be a great opportunity and one that I’m looking forward to.”