They will be desperate for all three points against the second-placed Mariners in what promises to be an exciting encounter at Skilled Park tonight.
A win would move Miron Bleiberg’s men to within two points of the Mariners, giving them third position and a chance to roll the Central Coast for a double chance in the finals if results go their way in the final match of the season on the weekend.
But for now they can set their sights on possible a home final against the Wellington Phoenix (who will likely finish sixth) and will be doing everything in their power to get maximum points at home. Dutch star Bas van den Brink is back from injury which is a plus for United who are aiming to equal their longest undefeated streak of seven matches at home.
From the Mariners side of things, life and form is good without a defeat in seven matches and with second place theirs to lose, Graham Arnold will have his men riled up to achieve a positive result.
A draw will enable them to take on the Brisbane Roar in the two-legged semi-final but a loss leaves things open and the Mariners coach will not want to take any chances.
I wouldn’t expect him to ‘park the bus’ but a more cautious approach than usual might be the order of the day with a draw the most likely result in my eyes despite Central Coast’s loss of striker Matt Simon to injury.
Verdict: 1-1 draw
Gold Coast United v Central Coast Mariners
Date: Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Venue: Skilled Park, Robina
Local kick-off: 8.00pm (9.00pm AEDT)
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Head-to-Head: All matches (played 5): Gold Coast United wins 2, Central Coast Mariners wins 1 (2 draws)
Match fact: Having not lost any of their previous six Hyundai A-League matches at home, Gold Coast United are aiming to equal their longest undefeated streak at home (seven).
Gold Coast United squad: 1.Glen MOSS [gk], 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Chris HAROLD, 31.Josh BRILLANTE, 33.Peter PERCHTOLD, 34.Sung-Kil KIM *three to be omitted*
In: Bas VAN DEN BRINK (return from ankle injury), Josh BRILLANTE (promoted), Ben HALLORAN (promoted), Sung-Kil KIM (promoted)
Out: Golgol MEBRAHTU (shoulder injury – season),
Unavailable: Bruce DJITE (hamstring injury – 1 week), John CURTIS (shoulder injury – season).
Jason CULINA (knee injury – season), ROBSON (hamstring injury – 4 weeks), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury – indefinite), Matt OSMAN (knee injury – season)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 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 (c), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Bernie IBINI ISEI, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *three to be omitted*
In: Matthew LEWIS, Trent SAINSBURY, Chris DOIG, Bernie IBINI ISEI (all promoted)
Out: Matt SIMON (knee)
Unavailable: Matt SIMON (knee – 1 week), Mciahel BIRD (knee – one week), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season), Bard PORTER (knee – 6 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee – 6 weeks)