Ranko Despotovic has scored in both appearances for Sydney FC. Image courtesy of sportal.com.au
Sydney FC is on a four-game winning streak, remarkably, for the first time in its history. The acid test comes this Saturday night, though, when it travels to Gosford to take on a Central Coast side it hasn’t beaten on the road since 2008. The Sky Blues will have to do so without talisman Alessandro Del Piero, who has succumbed to a leg injury sustained in last week’s 2-0 win over the Newcastle Jets.
Without Del Piero in the line-up, Sydney FC has struggled over the past season-and-a-quarter. The men from the Harbour City have lost three and won on just one occasion with the Italian on the sidelines, and those defeats include a 7-2 loss to the Mariners last season. Earlier this year when he limped off against Brisbane Roar with a calf problem at the half-hour mark, the Sky Blues were hammered 4-0 with every score coming after he was substituted.
The Mariners have played just two matches since the departure of long-time coach Graham Arnold to the J-League, with assistant Phil Moss taking over. Central Coast started under their new boss with Mitchell Duke scoring an injury time winner in a 2-1 victory over Perth, but on a wet night in Gosford last week the Mariners played out a scoreless draw with Melbourne Victory.
Sydney FC has Pedj Bojic returning from suspension, while Serbian forward Ranko Despotovic is likely to come in to the starting side for Del Piero after netting goals off the bench in the last two games. The Mariners would like to see similar goalscoring form from marksman Daniel McBreen who is yet to find the back of the net since returning from a loan spell in China.
Sydney FC won the last two meetings between the teams but both games were played at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Mariners have won three and drawn three since the Sky Blues last tasted victory at their northern neighbours’ home ground.
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