The Central Coast Mariners defence has been roundly praised so far this campaign, having conceded just five goals in nine games, but no opposing striker has had such a formidable record as this Sunday’s visiting number nine, North Queensland’s Robbie Fowler.
The Central Coast Mariners defence has been roundly praised so far this campaign, having conceded just five goals in nine games, but no opposing striker has had such a formidable record as this Sunday-s visiting number nine, North Queensland-s Robbie Fowler.
Fowler amassed a whopping 230 goals during his 16 year stint at the elite level of the English game, and has already scored four goals in his nine Hyundai A-League appearances, to be second only behind Shane Smeltz on the scoring chart so far.
But with a Mariners defence performing as well as it is at present, Wilkinson is confident he and his partners at the back can keep the man Liverpool fans call “God” at bay.
“Obviously we-re looking forward to playing against Robbie this week. As a defender you want to test yourself against the best in the game, and he-s been there and done that for a number of years now.
“It-s great that the A-League has got him out here, and I just hope the Central Coast public come along, because it-s not very often you see a player of his calibre playing here at Bluetongue,” Wilkinson said.
Fowler sat out of the two clubs- pre-season trial match at Rockhampton-s Jardine Park back in July, meaning this will be the first time Central Coast players have the chance to test themselves against the former England international.
“He-s a Premier League legend, played all his career in the Premier League and done extremely well.
“We-ve been lucky enough to play against Dwight Yorke, Romario and Juninho, and now Fowler, it-s just fantastic the A-League can get these sort of players out here,” said Wilkinson.
While the Fury remains at the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder, they are beginning to string some positive results together, most recently a battling 1-all draw with Perth Glory at ME Bank Stadium, after being reduced to ten men.
Wilkinson is only too aware of the threat the Fury poses, particularly with two familiar faces, in Fury head coach Ian Ferguson, and assistant Stewart Petrie at the helm.
“It will be good to see those two, and North Queensland have been trucking along alright lately. Last week they were pretty unlucky to get a man sent off, and to get a 1-all draw in Perth with a man down for a full half is a pretty good result.
“I-m sure he-ll have them fired up this week, I-m sure he-ll be keen to get a result against his old team, they are going to be very tough.
“They work very hard, they shut the ball down quite quickly, and Fergie has them well drilled in that regard, so we are going to have to move the ball quickly to try to break them down.
“If we can get an early goal and get them on the back foot, we-ll be alright.
“If we can play as well as we did against the Gold Coast in our last home game, I-m sure we-ll be doing alright,” Wilkinson said.
There-s plenty of fun to be had for fans on Sunday, with EnergyAustralia Kids Free day, a Taronga ZOOmobile and a Surf Life Saving Central Coast relay at half time, combined with the on field double header involving the Westfield W-League side up against Adelaide United, before the Hyundai A-League clash against North Queensland.
“Sunday afternoon is a good time for crowds to come out, and a good time for all the kids to come along too. With the incentive of Kids Free day hopefully we-ll get a big crowd, especially to see a player like Robbie Fowler play, it will be fantastic,” said Wilkinson.
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.