Captain Wilkinson closes in on century

Central Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson, buoyed by his selection in the Socceroos’ 35-man squad that will assemble in Brisbane next week, will achieve another rare milestone when leading his charges at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

Central Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson, buoyed by his selection in the Socceroos- 35-man squad that will assemble in Brisbane next week, will achieve another rare milestone when leading his charges at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

Wilkinson will become the first Mariners player to register his milestone 90th competitive appearance for the yellow and navy should he play against Adelaide United in the South Australian capital on Friday.

Including last Friday-s match against the Perth Glory at Bluetongue Stadium, Wilkinson has made 89 appearances in all competitions for the Mariners, missing only nine matches in such time due to a medial meniscus injury suffered in August 2007.

During such time, Wilkinson has worn the captain-s armband on 35 occasions, leading the Mariners to 16 wins, 7 draws and 12 losses.

The player to have captained the Mariners on the most occasions is inaugural skipper Noel Spencer, who led the Mariners 52 times between May 2005 and February 2007.

Wilkinson is aiming to continue his hot streak of form against an Adelaide United side riding high from their continental and domestic success on Friday, with the likes of equal-top scoring Hyundai A-League marksman Cristiano sure to provide the Mariners ‘skipper and his backline with a stern test.

"We-ve been playing some good football over the last three or four weeks, but we-ve not been getting the results that we wanted," said Wilkinson.

"Before Friday, the last two games against Wellington and Melbourne we probably should have taken all three points, but it-s good to get that home monkey off our back and totally dominate a team.

"It was just a matter of time before we got a win on the board and we-re glad to have done that now and head to Adelaide full of confidence."

Though the Mariners have kept just the solitary clean sheet over the opening six rounds, the contribution from Wilkinson and company has been a feature of the Mariners- early season performances.

Wilkinson-s central defensive partnership with fellow youth international Nigel Boogaard has been gaining strength with each game, while the form of wide players Pedj Bojic, Andrew Clark, David D-Apuzzo and Bradley Porter has been the perfect complement.

With injured Qantas Socceroo prospect Dean Heffernan still in the grandstands and Paul O-Grady nearing a return to full match fitness, the Mariners- backline stability will only grow in the coming weeks, which spells positive news for an already confident yellow and navy line up.

"We-ve been very consistent over the past four weeks, we haven-t had too many changes coming in and out which is good, but we-re very happy with the way that we-re playing," said Wilkinson.

"Adelaide are in good form and to have qualified for the last four in Asia is a fantastic result not only for them but for the Hyundai A-League as well - congratulations on that but we-ll be looking to beat them this week."

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign continues at the Hindmarsh Stadium home of AFC Champions League semi finalists Adelaide United on Friday, 3 October. Kick off is at 8pm AEST.

The Mariners are next at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday, 19 October, when they host the Wellington Phoenix in Round 8. Kick off is at 3pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are now on sale at www.ccmariners.com.au.