The 6th placed Mariners have mixed their form since their opening day win over Melbourne Heart; drawing twice and losing once and will be looking for a big improvement against the Victory.
Last week's 1-1 draw against Sydney FC came with a bit of luck as they were awarded a dubious penalty with 20 minutes remaining which enabled them to cut down the Sky Blues' lead. The loss of new striker Patricio Perez for simulation could be a blow as he provided a spark when he came on last week but the club managed without him for the first three matches and should be fine with Matt Simon, Daniel McBreen and ex-Victory loanee Nik Mrdja up front.
In the Victory camp, Billy Celeski and Tom Pondeljak are back in the squad which gives them a big boost in midfield and the return to form of lone striker Robbie Kruse would be pleasing.
Melbourne got the job done against Gold Coast United away from home last week and have a knack for getting positive results on the road when they need them. A win would put them right back amongst the pack and I feel they have the players and the form to triumph in this one.
Verdict: Victory 1-0.
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne VictoryDate: Friday, 3 September 2010 Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Local kick-off: 8.00pm Head-to-Head: All matches (played 15): Central Coast Mariners wins 5, Melbourne Victory wins 7 (3 draws) Referee: Chris Beath
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD & on Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 66.3 Coast FM (Gosford) and 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN Digital. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Central Coast Mariners squad: 2 Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *two to be omitted* In: Brad PORTER (returns from injury), Matthew LEWIS (promoted) Out: Patricio PEREZ (suspended - two weeks) Unavailable: Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19. Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27. Geoff KELLAWAY *three to be omitted* In: 17.Matthew FOSCHINI (promoted), 14. Billy CELESKI (returns from injury), 15.Tom PONDELJAK (promoted) Out: 22.Nick WARD (transferred to Wellington Phoenix) Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee), Matthew KEMP (knee)