Mariners travel to Melbourne to face Victory

The Central Coast Mariners are back in action tomorrow afternoon, facing off against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park, with kick-off scheduled for 5pm.

After 18 matches the two team’s sit equal on 31 points, with also an identical goal difference of plus eleven. The Mariners currently are in second with more goals scored compared to the Victorians, with the winner on Sunday creating some important space in the top two as we approach the tail end of the season.

Team News 📋

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson has made two changes to our squad that defeated Western Sydney 1-0 last weekend at Our Paradise.

Both Jacob Farrell and Christian Theoharous miss the match due to suspension, with the duo picking up their fifth yellow card each last weekend against the Wanderers.

Replacing Christian Theoharous is Bradley Tapp, who marked his return from injury on Thursday evening against Macarthur.

The young midfielder played his first minutes since starting in our 2-1 home victory against Melbourne City in late January, getting over 45 minutes in the legs. Andre Parkes also joins the 20-player squad in place of the suspended Farrell.

Angel Torres is also in line to take the field this weekend, after missing our last Isuzu UTE A-League match due to injury. The Colombian scored off the bench in our AFC Cup Zonal Final win, his 13th in all competitions this season.

Both Leigh Broxham and Salim Khelifi both join Melbourne’s 20-player squad after missing out on selection in their midweek fixture against Western, while Kasey Bos drops out of the squad entirely.

Victory welcomed back Bruno Fornaroli on Tuesday night, with the Uruguayan fit for our clash on Sunday afternoon.

Recent form 📈

It has been a stunning three months for the Central Coast Mariners, losing just once in our past 18 matches. In those games we have won 12 of them, with our only hiccup being a 3-1 loss to Sydney FC a fortnight ago.

Since then, we have well and truly got back to winning ways, defeating Western Sydney 1-0 at home last weekend, before an incredible 3-2 victory over Macarthur in the AFC Cup.

Melbourne grabbed their first three points since the first week of January against Western United mid-week, with a Damien Da Silva stoppage time double seeing them walk away with the maximum reward.

Before that game Victory had seen themselves pick up five draws in their previous six matches, with the other being a 1-0 home loss to Macarthur FC.

Previous games ⚔️

The Mariners and Melbourne have faced off twice so far this season, with both team’s walking away with a point-a-piece on both occasions.

Alou Kuol opened the scoring in our early December match against them, before two long range efforts from Bruno Fornaroli and Nishan Velupillay gave Victory the advantage. Angel Torres’ 73rd minute penalty meant that the two sides could not ultimately be separated that afternoon.

We took them on again in Unite Round, with Melbourne taking the advantage in that match through a Daniel Arzani penalty in the 33rd minute.

The Mariners never-say-die attitude was on clear display late in the game, with substitute Jing Reec collecting a beautiful pass from Max Balard in the 89th minute.

The young forward rounding Paul Izzo before calmly slotting it home to again see both teams leave with a solitary point.

Players to watch 🌟

While there were many standout players in our 3-2 win over Macarthur on Thursday night, it was player-of-the-match Josh Nisbet who ultimately stole the show.

The midfielder ran the show for the entire 120 minutes, producing one of the best assists of the season to help us score our opener late into regulation time.

Starting the game as one of the deeper lying midfielders next to Max Balard, the return of Brad Tapp from injury off the bench allowed him to push further forward, playing in the 10 position.

This bit of attacking freedom allowed him to look extra dangerous when we had the ball, being a constant headache for Macarthur’s defensive line. Melbourne will need to pay close attention to the 24-year-old if they want to get a positive result on Sunday.

After coming on as a half-time substitution for Victory against Western on Tuesday night, Daniel Arzani produced one of his best 45 minutes of football on Australian soil as he helped his side grab a much needed three points.

Two assists in stoppage time from the 25-year-old sent the home crowd into raptures, with the forward gaining praise from many in the league for his impact on the fixture.

A skilful dribbler with a dangerous change of speed, our defence will need to be aware of Arzani whenever he is on the ball if we want to emerge victorious.