Arnold wary of the rise of the Phoenix

The Central Coast Mariners will look to return to the winner’s circle and in doing so continue to heap pressure on second spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Central Coast Mariners will look to return to the winner-s circle and in doing so continue to heap pressure on second spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Mariners broke one of the longest ducks in the league-s history when they came away with a 3-nil win over the Phoenix at Westpac Stadium almost two months ago, their first victory in the Kiwi capital in over three years, and Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says his team can take plenty of confidence from that drought-breaking performance.

“They are a tough team to play against, we lost 2-nil to them over there then beat them 3-nil in what I think was probably our best display of the season over 90 minutes.

“They-re going to be an extremely tough team that are well coached by Ricki Herbert and it-s going to be a tough game.

“We always look at the positive side of things and the positive is that Adelaide has played three games more than us and we-re four points behind so everything is in our hands, and I-m happy when we can control the situation,” Arnold said.

The Phoenix will head into the clash on the back of a 2-nil win over Melbourne Victory in the Kiwi capital in midweek, and two familiar faces return to Bluetongue on Sunday with the visitors, in the form of ex-Mariners striker Dylan Macallister, along with long-serving goalkeeper and fans favourite Danny Vukovic.

“They-re battling for sixth spot and they had a great result against Melbourne Victory so their confidence is going to be high, and we have to be wary of the two Mariners coming home, Danny Vukovic in goal and Dylan Macallister who played very well for Wellington,” said Arnold.

There will be a new face too for the Yellow and Navy, with the midweek recruitment from Perth Glory of Michael Baird meaning the 27-year-old striker will likely take his place on the bench in front of his new home crowd.

“I think he-ll be on the bench, Adam Kwasnik-s suspended. Michael has only come in this week but he will probably come off the bench and we-ll use Matty Simon and McBreen up front.

The suspension of Adam Kwasnik is the third for the club in as many matches, and has seen Arnold lay down the law to his troops this week.

“Kwasnik is suspended but we-ve had a good chat about the discipline side of things. Ill discipline is costing us at the moment. You can-t do that, the players know the rules and regulations from FFA and that has been spelled out to them again today. We have to play by the rules, we need 11 players on the pitch because you-re not good enough to play with 9 or 10 players,” Arnold said.

The Mariners will be aiming to equal the Hyundai A-League record for scoring in the most consecutive home matches, having found the back of the net in each of their past 14 outings at Bluetongue Stadium, the last time the Mariners were unable to trouble the scorers was indeed against Wellington, back on New Year-s Eve 2009.

Arnold admits the side is still hurting from the fact it missed out on all three points in front of the biggest home crowd of the season - a healthy New Year-s Eve attendance of 12,409 - and he has promised plenty of fireworks for what he hopes is another big turnout on Sunday.

“We have been playing great football and I believe games at Bluetongue have got the most goals in the A-League this year, 36 goals in the 9 games that have been played at Bluetongue so there-s always entertainment.

“It-s going to be a tough game and hopefully we are going to get a response like we did on Friday against Melbourne Victory, we had a fantastic crowd, 12-and-a-half-thousand and the question is where have they been all year.

“Let-s hope a big crowd turns up to support us because they were on song on Friday night and even though we lost the game in the last five minutes, without their support and the way they supported us we might not have got to the last five minutes so they are the 12th man and lets hope they turn up on Sunday,” Arnold said.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Wellington Phoenix next Sunday, 9 January at Bluetongue Stadium. Kick-off is at 5:00pm AEDT and tickets are available by visiting www.ticketek.com.au or by phoning 132 849.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD and Sky Sports 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club broadcast partners are 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford) and The Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM.

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 11): Central Coast Mariners wins 4, Wellington Phoenix wins 5 (2 draws)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 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, 13. Michael BAIRD, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk). *three to be omitted*

In: Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Michael BAIRD (new signing - pending registration), Rostyn GRIFFITHS (returns from suspension), Pedj BOJIC (returns from suspension) Out: Adam KWASNIK (suspended - one match) Unavailable: Brad PORTER (knee - 8 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee - 8 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season).

Wellington Phoenix: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Dylan MACALLISTER.

In: Nil Out: Nil Unavailable: Paul IFILL (leg - 6 weeks), Mark PASTON (knee - season), Jade NORTH (international duty - 4 weeks)

Referee: Matthew Breeze