McKinna confident in battle of beaches

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna is set to take charge of his side for the 100th time in the Hyundai A-League this Saturday, and is confident his players have what it takes to mark the occasion with three points.

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna is set to take charge of his side for the 100th time in the Hyundai A-League this Saturday, and is confident his players have what it takes to mark the occasion with three points.

Gold Coast United are the competition front-runners and have netted 14 goals so far, but after a 2-all draw in pre-season, McKinna is hopeful of a return to the winners- circle.

“I think any team is there for the taking,” McKinna said.

“It will be a very hard game at the weekend, and we need to bounce back for it.

“Gold Coast are setting the standard just now, but don-t be kidded, they-ll work hard and they-ll be physical, because they are a very well organized team.

“They do get stuck in and they do work hard, but they have quality players as well who can finish things off, and that-s why they are sitting on top of the league,” McKinna said.

“We did well against them in the pre-season friendly, they came at us in the first fifteen minutes, but we weathered that and then dominated large parts of the game, especially when they went down to ten men. I wish it was Rugby League game because it would have been finished and done and dusted at 2-nil (after 80 minutes)!” Joked McKinna.

Former Central Coast midfielder Matthew Osman is expected to overcome a hip flexor injury in time to line up against his old club, while Terrigal junior Jess Vanstratten could also be in line to make his debut Hyundai A-League appearance, if he replaces Scott Higgins in goal.

Daniel Piorkowski will miss the trip after suffering a leg injury at training yesterday, however Miron Blieberg-s squad still contains the formidable duo of Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina and the league-s leading goalscorer Shane Smeltz.

“They-re doing very well, and Smeltz scored two through the week for New Zealand and he-s a great player, so if we can keep him quiet, there aren-t many goals coming from elsewhere,” said McKinna.

The Mariners will be looking to continue their strong start to the season in defence, where they currently lead the field as the most miserly at the back, having conceded just four goals in six matches.

“We-ve got the best defensive record in the league, only conceded four goals, but we-ve scored the least as well, so we-ll continue to do the defensive work, but also look to create a few more chances,” McKinna said.

Helping McKinna-s side-s cause is the news former Northampton Town hardman Chris Doig is in line for a return from a problematic calf, while Michael McGlinchey is back after making his international debut for New Zealand in a 3-1 win over Jordan.

It-s hoped those inclusions can help McKinna-s men celebrate the club-s 100th Hyundai A-League match with three points.

A reflective McKinna full of praise for what the club has achieved in the past four seasons.

“In 100 games we-ve achieved a lot. Getting a good supporter base up straight away, we-ve been reasonably successful, obviously we would have liked to have won the two grand finals but we-ve made two Grand Finals, won a Pre-Season Cup, won a Minor Premiership, qualified for Asia.

“We-ve done a lot in the four-and-a-bit seasons with a lot to be proud of and I-m certainly very proud of what I-ve done and other people (have done). Everybody-s worked hard to establish us as one of the best teams in the A-League.

“When I came up here in March 2005 it was still a Rugby League town, now you come up here on match day and it-s Yellow and Blue flags, balloons and everything, and to change it around and get a supporter base, which is not just football people, it-s Central Coast people, is very satisfying.

“We-re competing against all the big clubs, and I think what we-ve achieved with a low budget is testament to all the people involved in the club that we are competitive on and off the field.

“The odds are stacked against us in a small area, but crowd wise per-head we-ve blitzed it in, and sponsorship, and what we-ve achieved on the field as well, it-s very satisfying to know we are competing against a team with a lot more money, and competing well against them,” McKinna said.

The Mariners next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United on Saturday, 19 September. Kick-off is at 7:30pm. Tickets for this match are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.

Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Matthew RYAN (gk).?
*two to be omitted*

In: Chris DOIG (return from injury), Michael McGLINCHEY (return from international duty), Matthew RYAN (promoted from NYL)

Out: Andrew REDMAYNE (international duty)

Unavailable: Shane HUKE (knee – 4 weeks)

Gold Coast United Squad: 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 11.MILSON, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 16.Kristian REES, 17.Matt OSMAN, 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.ANDERSON, 25.Steven LUSTICA, 26.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 40.Robbie BAJIC (gk)
*one to be omitted*

In: Matt OSMAN (return from hip injury), Steven LUSTICA (promoted from NYL)

Out: Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle – 2 weeks)

Unavailable: JEFFERSON (knee injury – 4 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (ankle injury – 1 week), Andrew BARISIC (suspended – 1 week), Joel PORTER (calf injury – 1 week), ROBSON (knee injury – 1 week), Tahj MINNIECON (international duty)

Referee: Matthew BREEZE