The home side are firm favourites to take this out and rightly so as they meet a Fury outfit that has failed to win in six outings and have lost five of those in the process.
Although the Gold Coast have lost two and drawn two from their past four, relinquishing third position on the table, they should prove far too good for the Fury despite the fact the Townsville club are one of only two teams to beat United at Skilled Park this term.
A massive in for Miron Bleiberg’s men is that of returning striker Shane Smeltz who is back from Turkey for a short-term spell. He is a proven goalscorer and is likely to be too much to handle for the Fury defence.
Steve Pantelidis and Anderson are also back in action for the home side, providing Bleiberg with more depth whilst in the Fury camp, Franz Straka may be able to call on promising youngster Isaka Cernak who has been sidelined for a number of weeks with injury.
Even though the Gold Coast have a poorer goals per game average than the Fury, I feel they have far more to play for and should be able to get away with all three points here.
Verdict: Gold Coast 1-0
Gold Coast United vs. North QLD Fury
Date: Friday, 14 January 2010
Venue: Skilled Park, Robina
Local kick-off: 7:30pm
Referee: Matthew Gillett
Head-to-Head: All matches (played 5): Gold Coast United wins 2, North Queensland Fury wins 3 (0 draws)
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, 11.Bruce DJITE, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 16.Kristian REES, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 22.Adama TRAORE, 24.John CURTIS, 25.Chris BROADFOOT, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Chris HAROLD *two to be omitted*
In: Steve PANTELIDIS (return from suspension), ANDERSON (promoted), Shane SMELTZ (new signing), Golgol MEBRAHTU (promoted), Ben HALLORAN (promoted).
Out: ROBSON (hamstring injury – 8 weeks), Tahj MINNIECON (not selected), Steve FITZSIMMONS (suspended – 2 games).
Unavailable: 14.Joel PORTER (calf injury – 1 game), 10.Jason CULINA (international duty), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury – indefinite), Matt OSMAN (knee injury – indefinite)
North Queensland Fury squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 2. Jack HINGERT, 3. Brad McDONALD, 4. Eric AKOTO, 5. Mark HUGHES, 7. Gareth EDDS (c), 8. Adam CASEY, 12. Panagiotis NIKAS, 13. Andre KILIAN, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Chris PAYNE, 16. Simon STOREY, 18. Brett STUDMAN, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 21. Jason SPAGNUOLO, 22. Lorenzo SIPI, 24. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU, 28. Sebastian USAI (gk) *three to be omitted*
In: Simon STOREY (returns from injury), 19. Isaka CERNAK (returns from injury), 22. Lorenzo SIPI (promoted)
Unavailable: Ufuk TALAY (hamstring – 1 weeks), David WILLIAMS (knee – 1 week), Osama MALIK (hamstring – 1-2 weeks), Matthew HAM (knee – out for the season)