Mariners Fight For Grand Final Berth

Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
Daniel McBreen is the top scorer in the A-League this season. Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
The Central Coast Mariners  and Melbourne Victory  will fight it out for a berth in the A-League grand final on Sunday, with both sides close to full strength. Despite having last week off, the Mariners have played three matches in the past 16 days but have been shrewdly managed by coach Graham Arnold and will be raring to go for their most important game of the season so far. Michael McGlinchey, Nick Montgomery and leading scorer Daniel McBreen  were amongst six players who didn’t make the trip to China for the clubs AFC Champions League clash with Guizhou Renhe but will return to the starting lineup for this do-or-die encounter.

While Central Coast was resting last weekend, Melbourne needed extra-time to get past Perth Glory for the right to face the Mariners. Victory had been trailing for 75 minutes before Mark Milligan forced the elimination final into extra-time with a 90th minute penalty and Archie Thompson  took full advantage of a tired defence to head home the winner and book his side a place in the last four. Marcos Flores could return to the starting XI after coming off the bench in the second half last week, but Nick Ansell is still unavailable with a groin injury.

While the first two matches between these teams during the current campaign ended in a draw , Central Coast handed Melbourne a 6-2 hiding in the most recent match at Bluetongue Stadium in round 22. Bluetongue has been something of a fortress for the Mariners this season with the club winning 11 of their 13 fixtures at the ground and losing just once.

Click here to bet on A-League Play-off matches