Title-chasing Adelaide United and finals hopefuls the Central Coast Mariners clash at Coopers Stadium to kick off Round 21, with former Red Fabio Ferreira the centre of attention as he gets ready to take on his former club, against Josep Gombau's wishes.
Thursday, 12 March 2015
Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-Off: 7:00 PM (Local) (7:30 PM AEDT)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Osama MALIK, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA, 20.Paul IZZO (GK), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 5.Osama MALIK (returns from injury), 20.Paul IZZO (GK) (promoted), 24.Bruce KAMAU (promoted)
Outs: 30.John HALL (GK) (not selected)
Unavailable: 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Matthew NASH (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 7.John HUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (gk), 14.Travis MAJOR, 15. Matthew SIM, 16.Liam ROSE, 18.Glen TRIFIRO, 20.Anthony KALIK, 23.Isaka CERNAK, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Fabio FERREIRA
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 15. Matthew SIM (promoted), 20.Anthony KALIK (promoted)
Unavailable: 17.Richard VERNES (shoulder – indefinite), 19.Matt SIMON (groin – indefinite), 21.Michael NEILL (foot – indefinite)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 891 ABC Adelaide Digital, 92.5 Central Coast, Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.
Referee: Yudai Yamamoto (JFA)
Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream
Assistant Referee 2: Paul Cetrangolo
Fourth Official: Daniel Elder
The Central Coast Mariners have set themselves an ambitious target for the rest of the Hyundai A-League season under caretaker coach Tony Walmsley.
Having begun life after Phil Moss with a 1-0 win at home to Melbourne City FC on Sunday, the 2012-13 champions are targeting an unlikely finals berth.
The Gosford side are eighth on the table, six points behind sixth-placed Brisbane and having played two matches more than the reigning champions, who are in pole position to wrap up the last playoff place.
The Mariners will need to pick up plenty of points during the last seven matches of the campaign if they are to achieve their goal, starting with a tough game away to Adelaide United on Thursday.
The Reds are firmly among the title contenders but saw their own hopes of lifting silverware take a hit with a 2-0 loss away to fellow challengers the Wellington Phoenix last Saturday.
There's no denying Josep Gombau's men have the talent to feature meaningfully in the post-season reckoning but their results have been decidedly mixed in the last five weeks.
Can the Reds rediscover top form in time to mount a late charge up the table?
When these two met in Gosford last month visitors Adelaide enjoyed 61 percent of possession but somehow went home empty handed.
That's perhaps because they forgot to pack their shooting boots. The Reds managed less shots in total and less shots on target than their counterattacking hosts.
Appearing in control but failing to kill teams off has been a problem for Adelaide throughout this season. Will they fall into that trap again on Thursday night?
ROUTE TO GOAL
We know what Adelaide are capable of in the final third when they're at their dangerous best, but that's not been the case in the last two weeks.
Gombau is unlikely to change anything radically despite a mini-slump, with the Spanish coach to choose between Bruce Djite, Pablo Sanchez, Sergio Cirio, Awer Mabil and Miguel Palanca up front, with Marcelo Carrusca in behind them.
The Mariners have looked toothless for much of 2014-15, with creaking veteran Matt Simon - now sidelined with a groin injury - having had to carry too much of the attacking burden on his own, an issue not helped by Mitch Duke's departure for for Shimizu S-Pulse.
That's why the arrival of Fabio Ferreira from Adelaide has been so welcome in Gosford. Which brings us to...
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Ferreira was the subject of an unusual gentleman's agreement upon his exit from the Reds, with Phil Moss, the man who signed him for the Mariners, honouring Josep Gombau's wish that the Portuguese forward not feature in Central Coast's two remaining games against Adelaide this season.
That curious arrangement prevented the 25-year-old from featuring when the two sides clashed in Gosford on February 7, but he will be in the starting XI on Thursday after the Mariners executive vice chairman Peter Storrie, fresh from sacking Moss last week, dismissed the validity of the verbal handshake. Will the curse of the returning player strike at Coopers Stadium?
The Reds have lost 2-0 away to Wellington and 3-1 at Melbourne City in their last two matches. Prior to that they beat Western Sydney 2-1 and drew 1-1 with Perth Glory, both of those results coming at home.
Central Coast: WDLLL
Before beating Melbourne City 1-0 on Sunday, the Mariners had drawn 0-0 away to the Newcastle Jets in the F3 Derby.
Those were four welcome points gained after three successive losses, 4-2 at Sydney FC, 3-1 at home to Guangzhou R&F in the AFC Champions League qualifying playoffs and 2-0 at home Brisbane Roar.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Mariners have lost all of their last three matches away to the Reds, their most recent victory in South Australia coming in March 2013.
Adelaide United 2-1 Central Coast Mariners
The Reds were only narrowly beaten in an evenly matched contest away to the Phoenix last time out and we think they're too good for those recent struggles to continue.
The Mariners meanwhile looked a much-improved outfit at home to City on Sunday, but how long will that new manager bounce effect last?
There's plenty of endeavour in the Central Coast squad but man-for-man Adelaide, if they perform, should have too much for them.
Don't bet against Ferreira scoring against his old team to make it interesting though.