So 2013 comes to a close with the Mariners playing their now traditional New Year’s Eve fixture at home. This time we take on Perth Glory whose recent coaching turmoil has not been helpful to their results. The same could easily be said for the Mariners as confirmation of the impending departure of Michael McGlinchey arrived while the boys were still on the paddock taking on Western Sydney.
At Wanderland last week the Mariners were beaten but not disgraced. Except for a couple of moments of both Wanderers quality and Mariner’s questionable defending, the game was quite close. The Mariners competed well statistically but two consecutive lucky/unlucky deflections saw the ball fall to Tommy Juric on the edge of the six yard box after twenty minutes, where his quality overhead finish put the Mariners behind the “eight ball”. Despite a positive Mariners reaction leading to Marcos Flores shot being cleared off the line soon after, the Wanderers went two up when Shinji Ono’s cross (from a position which was difficult to prove was onside based on replays) was poorly defended by the Mariners and well finished by Yousef Hersi.
Perth on the other hand played out a 0-0 draw with Adelaide United in Western Australia which sent most neutral observers to sleep early and offered no incentive for them to wake as the contest continued.
The New Year’s Eve match shapes as one of the most important games of the season so far for both teams. The Mariners are precariously placed in sixth position but a win in this fixture would take them to fourth and only goal difference away from 3rd. Perth are positioned 3 points outside the six but a win would put them in sixth, on equal points with the Mariners but ahead on goal difference. I don’t think the match will define the seasons of either team but it certainly could be one of those clashes which sets the course for the remainder of the campaign.
For the Mariner’s a loss at their home fortress at this critical time could see them meeting a desperate Melbourne Heart on Sunday without the confidence normally associated with the Champions. A win on the other hand could be the start of a confidence boosting period and an improved second half of the season.
For Perth, a loss could see them slipping from contention and struggling to drag themselves back. A win could see them looking confident of an improved second half of the season and keep open their hopes of positioning themselves to make the finals.
I’m disappointed fans will miss the opportunity to see William Gallas play at Bluetongue Stadium this New Year’s Eve. Love him or hate him – depending on your EPL loyalties – few would doubt the status of Gallas playing career. Having played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe as well as proudly represented France in a long international career, Gallas has little to prove in football circles and it would have been nice to see him play in Gosford.
I’m disappointed to know Michael McGlinchey is leaving the Mariner’s because he has been a fan favourite at our club for such a long time. Having been pivotal to many aspects of our success over the past few years he will be sorely missed by the team and all Central Coast fans. It’s a fact of life though that we run a business in player sales, and in this case, no player in our team more deserves to take an opportunity to benefit himself than Mikey. Let us just hope there is ultimately some benefit for the Mariners.
I predict the Mariners can bounce back from the loss at Parramatta pre-Christmas and make a statement about the direction we’re heading this season. While our form has been at times up and down, I still believe we have enough quality in the squad to have a big say in the end of this season.
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