Central Coast Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery is ready for a tough challenge this weekend as his side stands just one match away from a Grand Final berth.
Facing Adelaide with a one goal lead after the first leg, Montgomery is hoping for a huge crowd to get behind the side in what should be a magical Central Coast evening.
“We expect a tough game. Same as last week, we’ll push again to try and win the game, pretty simple. They’re a good team, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
“They’ve got everything to play for as well, so we are hoping for a big crowd, another exciting atmosphere and a good advert for the A-League.”
Coming into the match, neither Montgomery nor the players are getting ahead of themselves. At least 90 minutes stand in the way of victory, against a side who has proven that they can score goals quickly this season.
“We will start the game as if it’s nil-all, that’s going to be our mentality. We have to go out to try and win every game and we’ve done that all season, so nothing’s going to change for this game,” he said.
“We know that they are a good team who are dangerous especially on set pieces and deliveries from wide with Goodwin. We will probably adjust the game plan a little bit but in terms of the game, it’s just another game at home. The last chance for us to play in front of our home fans so it’s got all of the ingredients for another good game.”
It was not the ideal start for the side in the opening five minutes last weekend, going down 1-0 after Adelaide converted a penalty.
The resilience shown in front of a capacity home crowd demonstrated the mental strength of the side, not giving up, knowing that they had the ability to get back into the game.
“I like the fact that after two minutes we went down one-nil to a penalty which was a tough call. We took it in and after two minutes, a big crowd of almost 16,000 away to Adelaide who are a very good team. I think that’s the first time this season they’ve gone one nil up and lost the game as well, so we take a lot of confidence from that,” he said.
“The resilience, the mindset and for the boys to show the composure they did after that and take a stranglehold of the game, we created four or five very good chances and quite possibly the game could have been finished at halftime.”
Montgomery credited Joe Gauci for some spectacular saves, after what was a dominant opening 45 minutes in from the Mariners. The goalkeeper keeping the scores close after the first half.
“He pulled off two unbelievable saves point blank from Cummings, Sammy hit the crossbar and on another day that bounces in the bottom corner. We knew in the second half that they would come out fighting and again we showed great resilience,” he said.
“11 minutes of injury time when seven minutes went up, so the boys stuck strong and stood tall and big to clear those crosses out. If I can be proud of anything it is the resilience the boys showed after a difficult start away from home against a good team. We take a lot of confidence from that.”
Looking towards this weekend’s game, Montgomery is hoping for a huge crowd at Industree Group Stadium to support the side. That home ground advantage has been sensational all season, with one last big push needed to help secure the team victory.
“If we can get the highest attendance of the finals with big teams like Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney involved, I think that’s unbelievable for the Central Coast. I think that shows that with a young team and a team that’s performing and playing good football, you can attract a big crowd,” he said.
“Call out to everybody on the Central Coast, get yourself a ticket and come watch the game because I think the boys deserve the support. The fans have been unbelievable since I took the job as the head coach. I’ve always got on really well with them as a player.
“For them to come and give the support, one last push for us to get to the grand final, I’m really looking forward to it. Another great atmosphere at a stadium that is one of the most beautiful in the world.”