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Central Coast Mariners
Central Coast Mariners
Adelaide United will hope to put pressure on the top four as they take on the Central Coast Mariners at home at Coopers Stadium on Friday evening, 7:30pm (AEST). Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match.
It’s an uncommon Friday night appearance for the Mariners, who could do without the extra television audience. Alen Stajcic’s side are in free fall, losing the last four and slipping into yet another bottom-place battle.
Last week’s 4-3 loss in the F3 derby to the bottom-placed Jets was almost unforgivable for a side that had been flirting with a finals position two months ago.
On paper the Mariners are the manifestation of A-League’s revolving door. Players on their third, fourth or fifth chance seem to end up in Gosford and there’s no amount of Stajcic hand-wringing that can turn them in the Mighty Ducks.
Tonight’s home side – Adelaide United – are equally as enigmatic as the Mariners but have enough quality to be camped inside the top six. They’ve won three of the last five, and exactly 50 per cent of their matches this season and have a goal difference of more than one. Amazingly the Reds haven’t drawn yet this campaign, which underlines their hot and cold tendencies.
Last week’s 2-1 loss away to Fowler’s dour Roar, after first taking the lead through Ben Halloran, was another dip in their wild rollercoaster of a season that may have peaked with the FFA Cup win. They’re a mixture of youth and experience, elite talent (Riley McGree) and jobbers (Ryan Strain). But manager Gertjan Verbeek just hasn’t found an equation that works week after week.
Despite this, Verbeek should be massively commended for his dedication to blooding young Australian talent. Young central midfielder Louis D’Arrigo has been a mainstay in the pivot, stepping up for the irreplaceable Isaias.
Striker Al Hassan Toure has been a revelation at times too, and after being ruled out of the season with a foot injury the Reds found a ready-made replacement in 15-year-old Mohamed Toure – Al Hassan’s brother.
For this match, the Reds go in oh-so-slightly strengthened with George Blackwood returning from injury, while occasional full backs Ryan Strain and Ryan Kitto miss through injury. The big loss for the Mariners is target man Matt Simon, who has rekindled his career with the Mariners and will be a massive loss Stajcic’s side.
Adelaide at Coopers should have more than enough firepower, talent and motivation to knock the Mariners off. In fact, with the Mariners level on points with the Jets, and Newcastle taking on the equally hapless Wanderers this weekend, the Mariners could find themselves in last place by the end of this weekend.
Adelaide United 2-0.
Kick-off: 7:30pm (AEDT)
Venue: Coopers Stadium
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel Go, MyFootballLive app
Odds: Adelaide United $1.40, Central Coast Mariners $7.50, draw $5.00