This weekend, Central Coast Mariners travel to Mudgee for the second time this season, facing Macarthur Bulls on Saturday in the Isuzu UTE A-League.
The Yellow and Navy last played out west on Tuesday evening in what was a back-and-forth game which resulted in a 0-0 draw despite both sides having chances to go ahead in the match, while Mark Birighitti was the hero for the Mariners saving new Socceroo Bruno Fornaroli’s penalty in the first half.
The Bulls are coming off a resounding 3-1 victory over Sydney rivals Western Sydney while in their previous two fixtures against Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City they were defeated by the Melbourne clubs 3-1 both times out.
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Speaking to media before the game, Nick Montgomery touched on the importance of squad depth and highlighted the impact James Bayliss had in his first start.
“Bayliss is someone who has been in our Academy for many years now and he is technically good and versatile too.”
“It’s gonna be a big period now, nine games coming up in April. It’s like eleven cup games to go. Let’s go out there and try and win every game.”
The Mariners do appear to have turned the corner and are un-beaten in their last three games.
So, who are the key players to keep an eye on this coming Saturday?
Mark Birighitti, (Central Coast Mariners)
After making a brilliant penalty save this past week against Fornaroli, Mark Birighitti has risen to an unstoppable form which warrants his name being in discussion for a potential Socceroo’s call-up.
It’s not the first time this season that the 30-year-old Western Australian has come up clutch from 12 yards. In-fact Birighitti has saved three penalties from five attempts so far this season, which is a very impressive tally.
The shot-stopper is third in the league for most saves per match with over 3.5 saves per game, while he is one of the league leaders for penalties saved so far this season.
It’s not the first time this season that he has been touted for a call-up to the Australian National Team as a string of impressive performances earlier in the campaign, particularly when the Perth-Born goalkeeper was a stand-out in Central Coast’s 1-0 victory over Sydney FC in the FFA Cup Semi-Final.
Ulises Davila (Macarthur)
Davila made the move the Bulls after an impressive season across the Tasman Strait with the Wellington Phoenix, and after scoring a double against the Wanderers last weekend, the Mexican will look to add to his impressive stint so far with the Bulls this weekend.
The 30-year-old who claimed the Johnny Warren Medal last season with the Nix has netted on four occasions so far this season while only providing a sole assist to a single Macarthur teammate, he will meet a stern defence this weekend against the Mariners.
However, despite some brilliance from Davila so far this season, the 30-year-old has not had as an impressive season we have seen before, and Central Coast will look to keep his attacking capabilities quiet on Saturday.
Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC is scheduled for kick-off at Glen Willow Stadium at 5:05pm.
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Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC
Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s MW19
Saturday 19th March 2022
Glen Willow Stadium, Mudgee, NSW
Kick Off: 5:05pm AEDT
Doors: 4:00pm AEDT