Arnold issues Boxing Day call to arms

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says his charges are excited about the prospect of having a rocking Bluetongue Stadium to help his side close the gap on second placed Adelaide United to just a point, with two games still in hand.

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says his charges are excited about the prospect of having a rocking Bluetongue Stadium to help his side close the gap on second placed Adelaide United to just a point, with two games still in hand.

Indications are for a healthy holiday roll-up and Arnold has paid tribute to the Members and supporters that have got behind the club so well already this season.

“We have tried to make Bluetongue a fortress this year and we have only lost two games at home.

“We-re not happy about that but I think we have given the fans plenty to cheer about, especially after the Sydney FC result, we-ve scored plenty of goals at home and you-d hope that the supporters are getting there with a mentality before the game that the Mariners have a really good chance of winning this and we have to get behind them,” said Arnold.

The Mariners have begun their five-match “Feast of Festive Football” at home with three points thanks to a fighting performance in a 1-nil win over North Queensland Fury on Wednesday, and while Arnold admits his side could have played more attractive football, he-s confident that will come on Sunday afternoon.

“I was a bit disappointed with our performance but I was happy with our character. Even though we didn-t have a great night football wise we still managed to battle it out and get the three points that we needed.

“Adelaide-s result against Perth was a fantastic result for us, it puts us within touching distance of the top two. Now we have Adelaide on Sunday, 2 vs. 3, we-re going into Christmas Day in third place and will be a fantastic game. It will be great to get a big supporter base and a noisy supporter base because the players feed off the enthusiasm and the passion of the supporters.

“I think we created enough chances to win two games, we could have won four or five nil but things were sloppy. Our passing was astray, we were second to every second ball and I thought we were too negative. We-ve worked extremely hard in transition of when we win the ball playing the ball forward and breaking but that wasn-t the case on Wednesday, every time we won the ball we went sideways or backwards and I don-t like that,” Arnold said.

The Mariners are likely to face off against former teammate Nigel Boogaard, who could be drafted into Rini Coolen-s starting eleven following injury to Paul Reid and suspension to Robert Cornthwaite, and whilst United are coming off the back of a loss to Perth, Arnold insists it will very much be an even playing field when the two teams clash at Bluetongue.

“It-s the same for every team. Branko Culina was quoted in Wellington saying the same thing. We had seven weeks on the road so everyone has the same problems at different times and that-s the way it is,” said Arnold.

The match is a six-pointer in every sense of the phrase, victory for the Mariners putting heavy pressure on the top two with matches up their sleeve.

Another positive for Arnold is he-s able to draw on every member of his squad, bar one, over a heavy Festive period.

“We-re pretty much injury free apart from Brad Porter. We-ve got 21 players to choose from and all will be required over the next four or five weeks with the heavy schedule and now fitting the Gold Coast game in as well there might be a bit of rotation of players when need be.

The one good thing about the heavy schedule is that over the next fine games we-ve got four games here and one in Newcastle so the travelling side of it won-t affect us,” Arnold said.

And having a huge Bluetongue Stadium crowd to play the role of the Mariners 12th man is sure to give the side extra motivation in making it three home wins in a row.

“The players need the energy from the crowd. Even if we-re not playing well, the crowd can make us play well with their enthusiasm and passion for the Mariners. We do have a wonderful support, I thought Wednesday-s crowd for a midweek game was a good turnout and for Boxing Day and New Year-s Eve we-re expecting bigger crowds.

“If they come in their droves with a lot of passion, and get behind the team from the first minute it drives the players through. If players are having flat spots in the game and they have got the crowd making lots of noise it drives them through it and gives them that extra edge,” Arnold said.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Adelaide United next Sunday, 26 December at Bluetongue Stadium. Kick-off is at 5:00pm AEDT and tickets are available at or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners five match Memberships are a great way to save and catch every minute of the Mariners- feast of Festive Football this summer. To purchase go to or call 1300 767 442.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD and Sky Sports 1 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club broadcast partners are 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford) and ABC Digital (Adelaide).

Central Coast Mariners: 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *two to be omitted*

In: Matthew LEWIS (promoted), John HUTCHINSON (returns from injury) Out: Nil Unavailable: Brad PORTER (knee - 8 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)

Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Iain FYFE, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES, 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Cameron WATSON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 26.Joe KEENAN *two to be omitted*

In: 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Daniel MULLEN (knee - season), Mathew LECKIE (knee - 4 weeks), Joe COSTA (knee - season)

Referee: Ben WILLIAMS