There hasn’t been much mention of it in the lead up, but the Mariners and Roar have built up quite a rivalry in the last few years. Central Coast fans haven’t forgotten the 2011 Grand Final and Brisbane fans will come to Bluetongue Stadium with confidence, knowing their team has established a great record at our fortress.
The F3 Derby last weekend had something for everyone, with both sets of fans riding the match like a rollercoaster through every twist, turn, rise and fall. The Jets were able to get themselves off the mark in the scoring stakes with a goal scored when goalkeeper Justin Pasfield was unable to hold a save following a free kick. He made a great follow up save but without his team mates swooping for the clearance he couldn’t do much about a third shot being bundled scrappily over the line. I will not dwell on the Jets second goal, scored by a Mariner’s player, except to say there are no words which can describe how such things happen to professional footballers.
What was positive in last week’s derby was the character and quality shown by the Mariner’s in putting together a great fight back. At one stage, down by two goals to nil, they clawed their way back to almost take home the points. Graham Arnold’s decision to bring on favourite son, Matt Simon, and experienced midfielder Mile Sterjovski, as well as to alter the team’s formation to do away with one of our now familiar two holding midfielders, was nothing short of a masterstroke. I may be sounding like a broken record on this man, but combined with Marcos Flores’ quality performance; this adjustment changed the game and almost delivered the result. It doesn’t seem like so long ago people wondered whether the Mariner’s would ever score a penalty again. Now we’re on a penalty “streak” and at the same time Flores has scored 3 but finished 4 quality penalties (including the retake on Saturday) and all in important pressure situations.
The Roar made an easy victory look hard in their match last weekend, when they allowed the Melbourne Heart to look the better side early in the match but managed to improve as the match wore on until some quality finishing ended up giving them an easy three nil win.
There are very few players who raise the ire of Mariners fans more than Besart Berisha and they will be pleased that he will not be available for Sunday’s match. All fans know what an important and quality player he is for the Roar and he will be sorely missed by Brisbane in this game. At the same time they will be buoyed by the recent performances of Henrique, who has looked excellent in his absence, and he and Thomas Broich will be the key figures for Brisbane on Sunday. Luke Brattan was another standout against the Heart and will be keen to continue his push into the spotlight.
For the Central Coast, the loss of both Storm Roux and Michael McGlinchey on international duty for the All-Whites of New Zealand will be hard to cover. The return of Golden Boot Daniel McBreen should ease concerns in the attacking third, as the A-League’s leading scorer from last season has been home for a week and is fit and ready to go. Having played in China just before returning and knowing how much competition there is for spots in the Mariner’s front line, there is no doubt Daniel will be itching to make an impact as soon as possible. With options such as Hayden Morton to play right back or Marcel Seip to come into the team and push Trent Sainsbury out to that position, the Mariners know there are some quality options to cover the loss of the in-form Roux.
I predict this will be a close game between two of the teams I think will be “heavy weights” in this year’s competition. While Brisbane have shown plenty of form in the early season and are the only team to have achieved positive results at Bluetongue Stadium, I’m going to predict the Mariners can even up the ledger a little and take the three points.
Prediction: Mariners by one.Google+