Two in-form teams will battle it out in what promises to be a crackerjack New Year's Eve clash in the A-League tonight. The Mariners are undefeated in their past four, winning three of those, making third place their own in the process whilst the Victory have not lost for six matches and have notched three wins on the trot to sit fifth.
Whilst both sets of results are positive, the way the Victory have gone about their business suggests they could be up for this although you could say they were lucky to snatch the points from Newcastle Jets on Monday night.
They will be buoyed by the return of midfield general Grant Brebner who missed the Jets match through suspension as Robbie Kruse get set for his last outing in Victory colours for about a month before he jets off to be with the Australian squad for the Asian Cup.
Ernie Merrick has the toughness and stability back amongst the players suggesting that an encouraging performance in Gosford is highly likely.
In the Mariners camp, things have taken on a slight sour taste with the absences of both Rostyn Griffiths and Pedj Bojic because of suspension.
Griffiths has been a vital member of Graham Arnold's line-up playing as a defensive midfielder whilst Bojic provides plenty of grunt and attack from right-back. The pair are sure to be missed and those two outs, along with Melbourne's newfound steely resolve, have swayed me to tip the visitors.
Verdict: Victory 2-1
Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne VictoryDate: Friday, 31 December 2010 Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Local kick-off: 6:00pm Referee: Ben Williams Head-to-Head: All matches (played 17): Central Coast Mariners wins 6, Melbourne Victory wins 7 (4 draws) Match fact:Melbourne Victory defender Grant Brebner set to make his 100th Hyundai A-League appearance.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD and Sky Sports 1 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club broadcast partners are 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford), 774 ABC (Melbourne) and SEN. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *one to be omitted* In: Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Trent SAINSBURY (promoted) Out: Rostyn GRIFFITHS (suspended - one match), Pedj BOJIC (suspended - 2 weeks (pending appeal)) Unavailable: Brad PORTER (knee - 8 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 9. RICARDINHO, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Evan BERGER, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Adrian LEIJER *one to be omitted* In: Grant BREBNER (returns from suspension) Out: Nil Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring), Matthew KEMP (groin)