It is a hectic schedule for the boys in Yellow and Blue and for amateur match preview bloggers for that matter… 🙂
The Mariners squad heads up to cbus stadium for their FFA Cup quarter final tonight against Palm Beach Sharks hot the heels of their F3 Derby win on the weekend. It wasn’t the prettiest victory on Derby Day but they say a win is a win and collecting three points first round is always crucial to making a good start to the season and especially important (at least for the fans) when it’s the Derby. Watching on TV from a hotel room instead of enjoying the atmosphere at the ‘Mariners Fortress’ wasn’t easy and not made easier by what looked like a ‘fair at best’ performance from our boys as they try and develop some level of team cohesion. In between glimpses of a decent performance were plenty of stray passes and poor touches. To be fair, and luckily, that probably sums up a fair part of the Jets performance too.
Results are important but Phil Moss will be looking for better composure across most of the pitch as we get ourselves into the season. A side from the result, a positive from the derby was the willing performance of excitement machine Malick Mane, who’s pacey and direct style did much to encourage some of the Yellow faithful. A draw would have perhaps been a fair result in this match but one thing obviously not lacking when the final minutes ebbed away, was belief. Playing until the final minute and a small dose of luck goes a long way in such situations and so it was, a last gasp win for the boys.
I know little about Palm Beach Sharks but they have shown plenty of character, and a little quality as well, to win their way through their FFA Cup fixtures so far and thus will form a formidable opponent. Winners of the 2014 QLD NPL Premiership and the Grand Final over Olympic FC (Mariners previous FFA Cup opponents), Palm Beach Sharks fell to Bonnyrigg White Eagles in the NPL finals last time out. Unlike the Mariners Palm Beach haven’t played since that NPL encounter but they will doubtless be desperate to show what they’ve got against their first Top Flight opponent. With individuals looking to interest watching A-League coaches, they will have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
For the Mariner’s this represents the ultimate in ‘banana skins’ but there is no doubting the boys from the Coast will be keenly eyeing the opportunity of a place in the semi-finals of the inaugural FFA Cup. It’s highly likely Phil Moss will go with plenty of rotation in the squad for tonight’s match, with this weekend’s home clash with Wellington Phoenix in the back of his mind. Players who either missed out on a chance or played only limited minutes on Saturday, Anthony Caceres, Isaka Cernak and Glen Trifiro are likely inclusions and I’m keen to see promising signing Richard Vernes make his first appearance in a competitive fixture for the club.
While on paper it might look like a relatively easy assignment for the A-League’s yellow and navy, I think this one will go down to the wire. The combination of the early season Mariners ‘rust’ versus a desperate Sharks will ensure there is plenty of interest for the neutrals.
My prediction – Mariners by 1