The Standout Unite Round Fixture? Mariners vs Victory Preview

Central Coast Mariners Men take on Melbourne Victory, in arguably the standout fixture of this weekend’s inaugural Unite Round in Sydney.

The game will be played at 5:15pm on Saturday evening, at Allianz Stadium. With the men following our A-League Women’s side who are in action on Friday evening, facing Wellington Phoenix at Leichhardt Oval (7:45pm kick-off).

Mark Jackson’s side are looking to become the first side to defeat Melbourne Victory this season. Tony Popovic’s side currently lead the way in the A-League with six wins and five draws from their first eleven games.

Last time out, Victory ran out 3-2 winners in a dramatic game in Perth. Ben Folami netted the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time after it looked like Perth had stolen a point in the 89th minute.

The Mariners are in fine form themselves though, and will certainly attack this game with no fear. A disciplined and determined performance last time out against Western Sydney Wanderers saw us leave CommBank with a 1-0 win, extending our unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions.

Jacko and the team will also take confidence from a strong showing against Victory when they visited our Paradise in early December.

Victory’s undeniable individual quality was clear to see on the day as two strikes from outside the box cancelled out Alou Kuol’s early opener. However, the Mariners earned a deserved point thanks to Angel Torres’ first A-League goal from the spot in the 73rd minute.

Highlights from our 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory, in the Isuzu UTE A-League on December 3rd 2023 (via the Official Central Coast Mariners YouTube channel).

Players to Watch

One less worry for Jackson will be that the Mariners will not have the league’s top scorer, Bruno Fornaroli, to deal with, this time around.

The 36-year-old has been at the heart of Victory’s table-topping, unbeaten start to the season, netting 13 goals in 10 games.

A-League defenders will have let out a great sigh of relief when El Tuna was included in Graham Arnold’s Socceroo squad for the Asia Cup this month, but Victory do possess plenty of talent elsewhere.

Zinedine Machach is one player Popovic will be looking to step up even further in Fornaroli’s absence. The Frenchman has been another standout performer so far this season, he already has four goals and three assists from midfield, in what is his debut A-League campaign.

Likewise, the Mariners are also looking to replace a key player in Marco Tulio, who signed off in style last week with a stunning winning goal against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Torres and Josh Nisbet have been in fine form of late, Nisbet providing four assists in his last four games, whilst Torres is our leading scorer in the A-League with six, ahead of number nine Alou Kuol who has netted four.