The Mariners are clinging to top spot just ahead of the Wanderers. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au
Everything seemed to be against Perth last weekend stats-wise; Glory hadn’t won in 2013, hadn’t scored in its last four matches, while Central Coast had won 15 of the 24 clashes between the teams. The record shows that Perth collected the three points last Saturday night with a shock 2-1 win, but that performance could be put down to the Glory players getting up for Alistair Edwards’ first match in charge as interim head coach. It could be, but there is also a sneaking suspicion that the Mariners aren’t great form, and haven’t been since the departure of young midfielder Tom Rogic last month.
A 5-0 thumping of pitiful Wellington masked the fact the Mariners had only managed draws against Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne Victory in the past month. They did beat Adelaide 3-1 at home at the end of January, but it’s fair to say the Reds were in the midst of a right royal slump at that stage. If there is a true test of where Graham Arnold’s side is, then surely it comes this weekend against Victory. Their home record is imposing, though, with eight wins and a draw from nine starts there this campaign.
Melbourne is at the end of its hardest run of matches all season. A 1-0 loss to fourth-placed Adelaide was followed by a 2-1 defeat by a Western Sydney side which has surged in to second place. That was the team’s first defeat at home by an interstate club all season, and a top- two finish now appears some distance off with the Wanderers opening up a five-point gap.
The Mariners have beaten Victory just twice at Bluetongue Stadium and only four times overall in nineteen A-League encounters. There have been four stalemates in the teams’ past seven meetings, and both clashes this season have finished in a draw , while Melbourne has failed to score on its last two visits to Gosford. One thing there hasn’t been a shortage of in Victory games this season is red cards , with three of Melbourne’s last five matches featuring a send off, while players from both teams have been given their marching orders in two of last three battles with the Mariners.
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