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By the Palm Trees – Central Coast Mariners vs Sydney FC

What a brilliant time it is for Australian football fans! The Asian Cup is proving a great success receiving wonderful support from the fans of each of the teams and Aussie football fans in general. As the number of matches at #AC2015 diminishes through the knock-out stages, it’s even better to have the A-League starting right back up again to capitalise on the interest.

It’s been a tough season so far for Central Coast Mariners fans with half a season yielding just two wins, 13 games apart, and plenty of frustration felt. My motivation to continue to write previews of our matches waned to the point where over Christmas I simply ran out of lines, interest, energy, call it whatever you like but how many times can you write articles predicting your team to lose and remain motivated about it? Anyway, that dry patch of form has for now (mercifully) come to an end and our team remains undefeated in 2015. Sure, it’s only one match but at least we can say we head into this weekend’s fixture on the back of a win, a clean sheet and a decent performance from the team.

Sydney FC has been a mixed-bag this campaign. Flying out of the blocks in the early season they raced along near the top of the ladder seemingly much more consistent performers under the guidance of our former mentor, Graham Arnold. In more recent times they have found the going more difficult with injuries and international duties making consistency difficult to come by at camp bling. The result is that they are now without a win since late November and can only be described as out of form.

There should be plenty of talk about the return of Graham Arnold to Central Coast Stadium. While the match itself provides plenty of interest as these are two of the teams which could fight for 5th and 6th position, the sub-plot is (and should still be) Arnie’s return after moving from the Mariners to Sydney FC via the J-League and Vegalta Sendai. While I am not one who agrees with them, plenty of our fans have not forgotten Graham Arnold’s statements as a Mariners coach that indicated he would not coach another A-League club. Regardless of the legitimacy of their claims that Arnie has gone back on his word, some remain steadfastly of that belief and will receive him accordingly on Saturday. While I love the pre-match talk around such subplots, for their interest raising quality, for me Graham Arnold came to our club unproven, and among other positive things, delivered the one thing I had craved for my team since the beginning of the A-League – A Championship. I will forever respect the man for that, but that’s not to say that his method and style didn’t deliver a few “lemons” along the way, some of which we’re still trying to get past today.

After a few weeks off we will have close to a full squad to choose from. Nick Montgomery is now past his recent calf complaint so watch out for him to make a re-appearance in the side and most of the rest of squad should be raring to go. Good news stories about the club re-signing some of our best means the fans and the squad will go into this match in a positive frame of mind. Speaking with some of the players and Phil Moss at the weekend CCM Official Supporters Club, Central Coast Stadium tour, there is plenty of confidence for what we have ahead. If we can continue to find the net the way we have done in recent games we will not allow the sky blues any easy points from their visit. Supporting that the head to head record between these two sides is even at eleven wins a piece but at fortress CC Stadium the record is Mariners seven wins to Sydney’s four and who could ever forget that entertaining night a couple of years ago when our boys delivered the ultimate demolition of our silver-tailed neighbours with a spectacular 7-2 victory.

This is a tough match to call but I predict the Mariners can use their new found form and home ground advantage to come away with three hard earned points. Mariners by 1

About Erin Morrow (96 Articles)
Football fanatic and amateur analyst. An over 35′s player and sometimes coach. He does the occasional refereeing. Passionate Central Coast Mariners foundation member. Follow on Twitter: @Erin_Mariner