Defending Champs Search For Winning Way

Image courtesy of Porteous
The Mariners' Championship defence is shaky. Image courtesy of Porteous

Without a win in February, Central Coast can stop its agonising slide down the ladder by sending Wellington home a loser for the second week in row. In their last three starts, the Mariners have fallen to Adelaide 2-0 , Victory 3-1 and Roar 2-1 . Even though they share third spot with Adelaide and Victory, the defending champions are fifth on goal difference and in danger of being over-hauled by Sydney FC, Phoenix and Newcastle.

However, the Mariners are always hard to beat at home. This season at Bluetongue Stadium, Phil Moss’s men have only lost twice (to Roar and Victory), whilst producing five wins and three draws. They’ve also managed to concede just six goals in 10 games in front of their fans. Central Coast’s home ground successes include a 3-0 victory over Newcastle, 2-1 against Glory and a 1-0 win over Phoenix in December. With three key players already suffering season-ending injuries, the Mariners' despth will be further tested as Matt Simon, Josh Rose and Nick Fitzgerald are all suspended this week.

Wellington hasn’t beaten Central Coast in the last ten meetings between the two sides. In fact, the Kiwi outfit hasn’t scored a goal in the past four road trips to Gosford. Ernie Merrick’s men last enjoyed an away victory over the Mariners in December 2009. After a poor start to the season, Phoenix did a good job to claw their way back into the top-six. But that came crumbling down last weekend when they were thumped 5-0 at home by a rejuvenated Heart. The devastating defeat left them two points out of the six.

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