Top Of The Table Clash In Gosford

Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
Daniel McBreen is this leading scorer in the A-League this season. Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
The Central Coast Mariners  can extend their lead at the top of the A-League table when they host second placed Adelaide United  at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday night. Both sides have endured mixed results over the past month but have done enough to stay clear of the chasing pack but will be determined to get their season back on track by collecting three points in this heavyweight clash.

Although the Mariners defence has been watertight this season, coach Graham Arnold will be hoping that the Mariners can rediscover their scoring touch after being held scoreless for just the third time this season in his sides 0-0  draw with the Newcastle Jets last week. The loss of young forwards Tom Rogic to Celtic has without a doubt hurt the club, and heaped further pressure on leading scorer Daniel McBreen and Socceroo striker Mile Sterjovski. While Sterjovski is yet to score for the Mariners, McBreen has found the back of the net 13 times from just 16 matches during the current campaign. Bernie Ibini, who was in Belgium with Club Brugge and missed last week’s draw with the Jets, could figure on his return to Australia.

The Reds have won just two of their past six matches and the clash against Central Coast is the first in a series of four tough fixtures for the club, who also face fellow top four sides Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers in the next fortnight. They could be boosted by the return of central defender Nigel Boogaard in Gosford to strengthen a defence that has conceded four goals in the past two matches.

Bluetongue Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for Adelaide United in the past, with just one win in the last nine meetings with the Mariners there. Indeed Central Coast has secured a victory in each of the last six clashes between the clubs, including a 2-1  win here in December. That result saw the Mariners replace Adelaide at the top of the table and they have remained there ever since.

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