Body blow for Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners preparations for tomorrow’s Hyundai A-League 2011 Major Semi Final second leg against Brisbane Roar have suffered a massive blow, with influential striker Matt Simon ruled out after suffering a freak injury.

The Central Coast Mariners preparations for tomorrow-s Hyundai A-League 2011 Major Semi Final second leg against Brisbane Roar have suffered a massive blow, with influential striker Matt Simon ruled out after suffering a freak injury.

Simon and his partner had been walking their dog on the eve of the club-s sojourn North, when he stepped on a sharp object, producing a deep cut requiring six stitches.

“There-s a beach near our house where you can take your dogs off their leash, and we have been going every day for the last three months, and I threw a toy in the water but the dog wouldn-t get it, so I was going in to get it, I was knee deep and as I stepped in the seaweed I stepped on something sharp, I looked at my foot and there was a massive cut on it. It-s a really clean cut so the doctor thinks it was probably glass,” said Simon.

“I-m absolutely devastated. We-ve trained well all week and the boys have been really confident that we can go up there and do the job we need to do so I-m really devastated that this has happened at this time.”

It-s a bitter blow to the Mariners, losing a man who has scored 11 goals this campaign, for a match which sees the Yellow and Navy needing to score at least twice to keep their hopes alive of qualifying first for the Hyundai A-League 2011 Grand Final.

“The boys have trained well all week and I-ll definitely be sitting at home cheering them on with my sore foot, and I-m confident that the boys can go up there and make a great fight of it, get the job done and get the result we need,” Simon said.

Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says Simon will be a massive loss.

“Matt is our leading goal scorer this season and of course we will miss him, but I-m confident that we have the depth and quality in this squad to cover his absence. It was just one of those freakish things and as you can imagine he is shattered,” said Arnold.

The Mariners are yet to beat Brisbane in their four meetings so far this season, but will go to Suncorp Stadium confident they have what it takes to cause a major upset.

“The boys have trained brilliantly all week, I-m incredibly proud of the way they have worked after the first leg, and while losing Simmo means we will have to change things around, everyone in this squad, whether they have been regulars or not, know what their jobs are and know what we need to do to beat Brisbane, so we will go up there with nothing to lose, and give it our best shot,” said Arnold.

The match marks the latest battle in arguably the two standout coaches of the 2010/11 campaign, with Arnold and Ange Postecoglou enjoying the two best win-loss ratios of any coach in the history of the Hyundai A-League.

Arnold-s ratio of 2.67 wins for every loss outstrips Postecoglou-s achievement of 2.40 wins for every loss, but not one for individual honours, Arnold says that will mean nothing if the result isn-t the right one.

“That-s probably testament to the hard work this entire squad has put in this season, we don-t have any superstars or marquee players but every one of them have put in 100% every day, and as a coach that-s all you can ask for.

“Matty Ryan is only 18 and has kept 12 clean sheets, more than anyone else during the season, and then you have people like Patrick Zwaanswijk, Josh Rose and Oliver Bozanic who have come in from overseas and have done incredible jobs.

“We have a lot of young kids and they have all really stepped up this year under tremendous leadership from the older guys like Patrick, Wilko, Hutch and McBreen,” Arnold said.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2011 Finals Series will be against Brisbane Roar tomorrow, Saturday, 26 February at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Kick-off is at 7:00pm QST (8:00pm AEDT) and tickets are available at www.ticketek.com.au or on 132 849.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD and Sky Sports 3 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 4BC 1116 and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford).

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 21): Central Coast Mariners wins 3, Brisbane Roar wins 11 (7 draws)

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 10. HENRIQUE, 12. Matt MUNDY, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 15. Matt McKAY (c), 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK.

In: Nil Out: Nil Unavailable: James MEYER (toe injury 4-6 weeks)

Central Coast Mariners: 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, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK. 24. Bernie IBINI ISEI, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk). *two to be omitted*

In: Matthew LEWIS, Trent SAINSBURY, Bernie IBINI ISEI (all promoted) Out: Matt SIMON (foot - 1 week) Unavailable: Matt SIMON (foot - 1 week), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season), Brad PORTER (knee - 4 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee - 4 weeks), Michael BAIRD (knee - 2 weeks)

Referee: Peter Green