The Mariners confirmed second spot with their 3-1 away win over Gold Coast United during the week, thanks to three kids which were given an opportunity by Graham Arnold.
Bernie Ibini-Isei and Mitchell Duke both scored their debut A-League goals in their second and first matches respectively whilst young gun Mustafa Amini also opened his account as the Gosford side cruised to the victory that moved them into a two-legged semi-final with league leaders Brisbane Roar.
Arnold must be fairly confident as he will be able to replace his youngsters with the likes of Pedj Bojic, Patricio Perez, Rostyn Griffiths and perhaps even Adam Kwasnik and Matt Simon although the latter may be given more time to recover from a slight knee injury.
At home over the past 10 weeks they have been close to irresistible and will be looking to continue that on the eve of the finals, especially as their F3 rivals come to town.
This is THE match of the season for the Jets who need a win if they want to sneak into finals, providing Wellington Phoenix lose at home to bottom-of-the-table North Queensland.
Branko Culina’s charges did themselves plenty of favours with a brilliant 4-0 win over Perth Glory on Thursday, led by New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie and fan favourite Sasho Petrovski, and will be going all out to win this one, even if the result in the match prior doesn’t go their way.
I would love to see an upset as I rate the way the Jets play when they are on song but I don’t think they are quite good enough to overcome a strong Mariners line-up who will be tuning up for a tilt at the Premiership.
Verdict: 1-1 draw
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets
Date: Sunday, 13 February 2011
Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Local kick-off: 5.00pm AEDT
Referee: Chris Beath
Match fact: Having scored in each of their previous 17 home matches, the Central Coast Mariners are aiming to maintain the Hyundai A-League’s longest run of home matches without being scoreless. The last time the Mariners were held to no goals at home was on 31-Dec-09 (L0-2 v Wellington).
Central Coast Mariners squad: 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Bernie IBINI-ISEI, 25. Mitchell DUKE, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *five to be omitted*
In: Pedj BOJIC, Matthew SIMON, Adam KWASNIK, Patricio PEREZ (all return from injury), Rostyn GRIFFITHS (promoted).
Unavailable: Michael BAIRD (knee - 1 week), Brad PORTER (knee - 4 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee - 6 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR STANLEY (c), 9. Zhang SHUO, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Sasho PETROVSKI, 14. Labinot HALITI, 16. Jeremy BROCKIE, 17. Marcello FIORENTINI, 18. Marko JESIC , 19.Ali ABBAS, 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 23. Ryan GRIFFTHS, 25. Samuel GALLAWAY, 26. James VIRGILI, 28. Mario SIMIC, 31. Jacob PEPPER, 40. Matthew NASH *five to be omitted*
In: Taylor REGAN (promoted), Kaz PATAFTA (returns from injury), Zhang SHUO (returns from injury), Ryan GRIFFTHS (returns from suspension), Marcello FIORENTINI (returns from suspension)
Unavailable: Michael BRIDGES (knee - six weeks), Sean ROONEY (knee - season), Ben KANTAROVSKI (knee - season), Brodie MOOY (compartment syndrome - season), Kasey WEHRMAN (Foot - four weeks), Ruben ZADKOVICH (knee - two weeks)