Another week, another massive game and there are no signs of it letting up soon. The whips are cracking as we head into the home straight of the A-League season 8 and neither the Premiership nor the final six have been determined. Saturday night’s Central Coast Mariner’s and Melbourne Victory will be an intriguing battle between two of the heavy weights of the season so far.
The Mariners slipped on the “banana peel” I spoke if last week and now find themselves under slightly greater pressure. With only a point separating them from the Western Sydney Wanderers the upcoming games are made all the more crucial.
After an excellent start to the Perth Glory game culminating in a well finished goal to Bernie Ibini and some bright displays of interplay, the Mariners began squandering their chances and making a decreasing amount of them. When Perth Glory were able to find a well taken equaliser, they begun to show signs their coaches brief stay had already had a positive effect. Once the Glory were equal, they increasingly played to their new game plan of patient possession and it paid off when an excellent cross met with a super headed finish to give them the lead.
The Mariners were still dangerous at times but in reality the passes just weren’t going to feet with the normal flow shown so far this season. Taking nothing away from the Glory’s obvious improvements this performance was certainly one of the Mariners worst this season and a repeat of this type of form at Bluetongue this week could well lead to their time at the top of the table coming to an end.
The Victory will be without the services of gun striker Archie Thompson and could be without out of form attacker Marcos Flores, but will be buoyed by the return of Adama Traore.
The Mariners on the other hand have few issues with personnel as they head into the most difficult part of their season. After Saturday’s Victory game the Mariner’s face Suwon Bluewings on Wednesday and then the Wanderers the following weekend, thankfully all at fortress Bluetongue Stadium. To succeed in either or both of the Premiership or the ACL the Mariners will need to rotate their squad. The depth will be tested more than at any other time this season and nothing less than three wins from the three will satisfy Graham Arnold and nothing less than three wins will allow the Mariners to move on with the Premiership and remain hopeful about our ambitions in the ACL. Intriguing indeed!
This Saturday’s game will be a cracker and I can’t wait to hit my seat and enjoy it. I expect a reaction from the Mariners after last weekend’s failure and there is no better way to put that to bed than with a win over one of the top teams and a team who will still have plenty to say about the ending of this season. The Victory will be a tough opponent as they always are and we will need to on our game to overcome their attacking dangers.
Early talk is that ticket sales are so far comparable to the 15k plus for the night Alessandro Del Piero almost came to Gosford. While I don’t think the crowd will reach those heights, I’d like to think we might at least beat 10k, and that would be a successful effort, particularly with the early weather predictions not being favourable for the match.
My prediction is the Mariners can take the win in a close contest. Mariners by 1.Google+