Captain Wilkinson promoted to Centurion

Central Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson will lead the club into battle for the 100th time tomorrow night, when the side takes on Gold Coast United in a match which could potentially secure second spot for the Yellow and Navy.

Central Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson will lead the club into battle for the 100th time tomorrow night, when the side takes on Gold Coast United in a match which could potentially secure second spot for the Yellow and Navy.

Wilkinson took the captain-s armband from an injured Noel Spencer late in the second season of the Hyundai A-League, and, bar a nine-match sabbatical due to injury in season three has been an ever present in leading the Mariners into battle.

But for Wilkinson, the milestone will mean nothing if his side can-t secure the one point required to secure second spot, and a virtual double chance at qualifying for what would be the club-s third Grand Final appearance in six seasons.

“It-s a very important game for us. It-s a huge honour for myself to have captained the club for 100 games, it-s fantastic, but it is more important for the club to get a result tomorrow night to shore up second spot,” said Wilkinson.

Returning to the glitter strip wasn-t on the radar for the Mariners as they embarked on their last journey north, but torrential rain at Skilled Park forced their week 19 clash to be abandoned after just 21 minutes, forcing an unscheduled return trip.

“It-s the same as any other game.

“We played on the weekend and so did they, they had a pretty tough road trip to Perth and a long trip home, so hopefully they will be feeling it a bit more than us, but we-re expecting a tough game because this is their last chance, they need all three points to stay in the running for second spot so we-re expecting them to be pretty fired up,” Wilkinson said.

The side will be without Matt Simon for the trip north after the big striker was forced from the field with a knee injury in last Friday-s 1-all draw with Melbourne Heart, but Wilkinson has every confidence his side can return to Bluetongue Stadium for a final day F3 derby blockbuster with Newcastle, confident in the knowledge second spot is all theirs.

“Matty has been first class all year and he is going to be missed, there-s no doubt about that but we have a number of strikers who can step up, and out youth team is going very well at the moment, and I think there are probably a couple of boys in the youth team who are close to getting a call up,” said Wilkinson.

Indeed, Wilkinson hopes Sunday-s F3 derby will double as a celebration of the club-s success so far this season, enjoyed by players, Members and supporters alike.

“It-d be great, especially in a local derby, Newcastle will probably bring down a few fans and if we shore up second spot hopefully the crowd will come out and support us before we have a home semi against Brisbane, but first things first, we have to concentrate on getting at least a point tomorrow night,” said Wilkinson.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Gold Coast United, tomorrow, Wednesday, 9 February at Skilled Park, Robina. Kick-off is at 8:00pm QST (9:00pm AEDT).

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au.

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 5): Central Coast Mariners wins 1, Gold Coast United wins 2 (2 draws)

Gold Coast United Squad:1.Glen MOSS [gk], 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Chris HAROLD, 31.Josh BRILLANTE, 33.Peter PERCHTOLD, 34.Sung-Kil KIM. *three to be omitted*

In: Bas VAN DEN BRINK (return from ankle injury), Josh BRILLANTE (promoted), Ben HALLORAN (promoted), Sung-Kil KIM (promoted). Out: Golgol MEBRAHTU (shoulder injury - season), Unavailable: Bruce DJITE (hamstring injury - 1 week), John CURTIS (shoulder injury - season), 1Jason CULINA (knee injury - season), ROBSON (hamstring injury - 4 weeks), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - indefinite), Matt OSMAN (knee injury - season).

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, 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). *three to be omitted*

In: Matthew LEWIS, Trent SAINSBURY, Chris DOIG, Bernie IBINI ISEI (all promoted) Out: Matt SIMON (knee) Unavailable: Matt SIMON (knee - 1 week), Michael BAIRD (knee - one week), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season), Brad PORTER (knee - 6 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee - 6 weeks).

Referee: Strebre DELOVSKI