With the rain tumbling in Melbourne, this promising fixture has been potentially marred.
Melbourne Heart have to go all out for a win but the wet surface could cause a few problems with John van ‘t Schip’s passing game which could quite easily be cut out by the solid defence of Graham Arnold’s Central Coast Mariners.
The Heart are desperate for all three points and will have to be at their attacking best to overcome a Mariners side that has conceded the third least amount of goals in the league.
The key players for the Heart are retiring midfielder Josip Skoko, who will play his second last professional match, Gerald Sibon and Alex Terra. If these three can fire, it will make life much easier for the home side and should allow them to put in a winning score.
But with second place still to be decided, the Mariners will be just as desperate for points but not as in much need for three as tonight’s opponents are.
Expect most of the play to be in the Heart’s attacking third as the likes of Josh Rose, Alex Wilkinson, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Pedj Bojic and Mathew Ryan will have their work cut out for them in the Central Coast defence.
‘Arnie’ continues to get the most out of his list and it wouldn’t surprise if the Mariners did win this but I feel that Melbourne are in good enough form, evidenced by their narrow 2-1 loss to league leaders Brisbane Roar the last time they stepped out, and will clinch the points to keep their finals hopes alive.
Verdict: Heart 2-1
Date: Friday, 4 Feb 2011
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 8:00pm
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Head-to-Head: All matches (played 2): Melbourne Heart wins 0, Central Coast Mariners wins 2 (0 draws)
Match fact: Central Coast Mariners aiming for new club record of nine away matches in a row undefeated.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD and Sky Sports 1 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Melbourne Heart squad: 1.Clint BOLTON (gk), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Brendan HAMILL, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6. Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Alex TERRA, 12.Peter ZOIS, 15.John ALOISI, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Josip SKOKO, 22.Nick KALMAR *two to be omitted*
In: Jason HOFFMAN (promoted), Brendan HAMILL (promoted)
Unavailable: Adrian ZAHRA (knee - season), Eli BABALJ (thigh)
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, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam WASNIK. 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *three to be omitted*
In: Matthew LEWIS, Trent SAINSBURY, Chris DOIG (all promoted)
Unavailable: Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season), Bard PORTER (knee – 6 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee – 6 weeks), Michael BAIRD (knee – 3 weeks)