The Central Coast Mariners can climb back into the Hyundai A-League top five with victory over Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium on New Year’s Eve, and Mariners’ Football Manager Lawrie McKinna believes there’s only one team that can decide the club’s fate.
The Central Coast Mariners can climb back into the Hyundai A-League top five with victory over Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium on New Year-s Eve, and Mariners- Football Manager Lawrie McKinna believes there-s only one team that can decide the club-s fate.
Despite some impressive performances, the Mariners have little to show for their efforts since a 5-1 thumping of North Queensland Fury just over a month ago, and have relied on other teams around them slipping up to remain in touch with the top.
Now, McKinna insists the squad has returned from its short Christmas break reinvigorated, and desperate to take hold of its own destiny.
“The boys had three days off and are pretty lively, and we need to be now, there-s a game on Thursday night that we need to get three points from. Some say we were unlucky against Sydney but we didn-t get anything from it, so we can-t feel sorry for ourselves.
“We need to take our chances. We limited their chances but they scored a really good goal, and we had a lot of chances, half chances and a penalty claim but you have to take them. I said after the game four weeks ago we were taking them, but now we-re not, so we have to turn that around,” McKinna said.
While its unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium dates back to October 2008, Wellington has won just two matches away from its home ground in the same period, but McKinna is aware that Ricki Herbert-s side has traditionally been a tough nut to crack.
“They-re very consistent, they-ve been getting a lot of draws and over the last couple of years we-ve found it hard to get results against them so we-d like a lucky goal somewhere so we can go on from there, play some good football and hopefully get that three points,” said McKinna.
The Mariners will be without goalkeeper Danny Vukovic and left fullback Dean Heffernan for the clash, with the pair on national duty with the Qantas Socceroos, while Nigel Boogaard is serving a one-match suspension.
Despite those key absences, McKinna says there is a chance for other members of the squad to stake their claim.
“(Nik) Mrdja came on and did well so we might look to get him in the starting lineup, Kwas (Adam Kwasnik) scored a goal (in the National Youth League), Ahmad did alright (in the National Youth League), (Shane) Huke started his first game so we have got a lot of things to look at,” said McKinna.
The Mariners- largest crowd to date this season is expected for the New Year-s Eve blockbuster, and with Gosford Races and the fireworks spectacular rounding off a great day and night of family entertainment, McKinna wants his side to contribute to the festivities with the three points.
“New Year-s Eve we-ll have our biggest crowd of the season, it-s a great day on the Coast, and there-d be nothing better than getting a win at home, we haven-t had that many of them this season but there-s nothing better than repaying the fans, because the fans that were down there in Sydney on Wednesday were outstanding. For the full 90 minutes we had great support, great noise and the boys really appreciated it, so we want to pay these guys back,” McKinna said.
While the rest of the Hyundai A-League had a busy Boxing Day weekend, the Mariners- had it relatively easy, training occasionally over the weekend, but avoiding the rigours of travel.
McKinna admits it is tough to schedule training and travel arrangements over the “holiday” period, but says it wasn-t the Christmas period that caused the most disruptions.
“It-s hard because we went to train at Budgewoi but we had to come down to Sohier Park at Ourimbah because the field had been attacked by those (around 300) Cockatoos and hadn-t recovered. We arrived there at about 8o-clock and started training here at half past nine so it-s going to be great when we-ve got our own training base, you can train any time, any holidays, whereas a lot of the time we-re dictated by what is going on around us.
“Our boys are great, I know Newcastle had to travel on Christmas Day and a lot of teams have been put out by it but its just part of the sport now, that-s professionalism and you have to get on with that. I know you miss time with your family but we-re going to have a few days off after the Wellington game where the boys can make up,” McKinna said.
*Head-to-Head: Played 7 Central Coast Mariners 3 wins, Wellington Phoenix 2 wins, 2 draws
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 3. Shane HUKE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA, 10. Panny NIKAS, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 19. Matt SIMON, 21. Ahmad ELRICH, 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Matthew RYAN (GK).
*three to be omitted*
IN: Panny NIKAS, Matthew LEWIS, Andrew CLARK, Ahmad ELRICH, Adam KWASNIK, Matthew RYAN (all promoted)
OUT: Danny VUKOVIC (international duty), Dean HEFFERNAN (international duty), Nigel BOOGAARD (suspended – 1 week)
UNAVAILABLE: Chris DOIG (quad – 1 week)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. DIEGO, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 17. Vince LIA, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES, 40. Liam REDDY (gk)
In: Manny MUSCAT (return from suspension)
Out: DANIEL (groin 1 -week)
Unavailable: Mark PASTON (leg – season) Ben SIGMUND (suspended – 1 week), Chris GREENACRE (leg – 1 week)
Referee: Matthew BREEZE
The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be the New Year-s Eve extravaganza against Wellington Phoenix on Thursday, 31 December. Kick-off is at 6:00pm. Tickets for this match are available online at www.ticketek.com.au or by phoning 132 849.
For more information about the Gosford New Year-s Eve festival go to www.gosfordnye.com.au
Mariners Four Match Christmas Packs for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online at www.ccmariners.com.au or by phoning 1300 767 442.