Match Preview: Top spot at stake as Mariners face Wellington

Christian Theoharous takes on Adelaide defenders in our 4-0 win at Coopers Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners are in action again on Tuesday (2pm AEDT) as they face Wellington Phoenix in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Phoenix have been around top spot since the early rounds of the competition, losing just once in their first eight, but the Mariners’ incredible form of 11 Isuzu UTE A-League matches without defeat has seen them go from bottom of the table on November 12th, to within touching distance of top less than three months later.

A win in New Zealand would see the club leapfrog their hosts and hit the summit of the A-League for the first time since June 2021.

⏪ Last time out

The Mariners ran riot in Adelaide on Saturday evening, 4-0 winners at Coopers Stadium to extend their unbeaten run to 13 in all competitions.

Angel Torres stole the show with an assist to Christian Theoharous and two stunning goals in the first half. Jing Reec then converted a late penalty, won by teenage substitute Bailey Brandtman, to seal a memorable win for the Mariners.

Phoenix dropped points late on to Brisbane Roar on Friday evening, Corey Brown’s 94th minute header stealing Roar their first point in four games, cancelling out Bozhidar Kraev’s strike.

🗞 Team news

Wellington manager Giancarlo Italiano confirmed the absence of three key first team players in his press conference, with star striker Oskar Zawada ruled out.

Mark Jackson is still without midfielders Harry Steele and Brad Tapp due to injury, but the Mariners are boosted by the return of Storm Roux from suspension following a successful appeal to his three game ban.

🌟 Players to watch

There is absolutely no doubting that the Mariners’ man of the moment is Angel Torres. The Colombian is in red-hot form, netting his ninth and tenth goals of the season last time out against Adelaide.

That makes it four in his last three, and nine in his last eight games… Our number 11 has been terrorising defences of late and is understandably full of confidence.

Wellington’s dangerman comes in the form of experienced forward Kosta Barbarouses, he is carrying the Nix’ goalscoring burden this season, as Zawada’s injury-hit campaign so far has not allowed him to replicate the form that saw him notch 15 last season.

The 33-year-old has eight goals so far this season, with Kraev and Zawada behind him on five each.

🗣 What has been said?

Italiano was extremely complimentary of the Mariners in his press conference ahead of this top of the table clash, he touched on some similarities between the Mariners and the Nix, and believes Jackson’s team is the ‘best team in the league at the moment.’

Our manager was also on media duty on Monday and likewise, was full of praise for Italiano and his team.

Jackson and the squad are feeling positive after extending their unbeaten run in fine style in Adelaide, and they are looking forward to the challenge ahead in Wellington.

Jackson also spoke about the form of Torres, and what it would mean to go top of the league. You can read all the best bits from his press conference via the link below.