Hutchinson: Competition for spots crucial to progress

CENTRAL Coast captain John Hutchinson believes the strong competition for game-time within the Mariners’ squad is what can help drive the men from Bluetongue Stadium to greater levels of performance this campaign.

CENTRAL Coast captain John Hutchinson believes the strong competition for game-time within the Mariners- squad is what can help drive the men from Bluetongue Stadium to greater levels of performance this campaign.

Graham Arnold-s team have collected an impressive 16 points from their last six matches and head into Saturday-s second F3 Derby contest of the season atop the Hyundai A-League ladder.

But Hutchinson insists his side-s current league position is of little interest to the playing group, and says that the healthy rivalry for places in Arnold-s matchday squad is the key to the team continuing its progression.

“We know we-re on top at the moment but we don-t sit there and stare at the ladder - it-s only nine rounds in,” Hutchinson said.

“We-ve got a lot of improvement still to go defensively and going forward.

“The boys have been working really hard and you can see that people here have the will to win.

“The players on the outside are pushing the people in the team and as long as we keep that going, as well as the unity, then we will be fine,” he said.

The Mariners have lost only once this campaign - that defeat coming in controversial fashion in the first F3 Derby of the season at Hunter Stadium in mid-October.

Hutchinson says he and his teammates will be working hard on Saturday to ensure the travelling supporters of the yellow and navy make their return journey down the F3 Freeway in a buoyant mood.

“Obviously for the fans it-s a big game,” he said.

“We were very disappointed that last time we didn-t bring home the points so we-re going to work hard on our game plan this week, and work even harder to bring home the points and keep our good run going.”

“Hopefully our fans will travel back down the F3 very happy.”

Despite the Jets missing a number of their key players through injury, suspension or national team duty, Hutchinson says the Mariners will not be underestimating their undermanned archenemies.

“They-ve got a good squad this year with a lot of young, talented players coming through, and I know that there-s a few boys that are looking to take their place.”

“They-ve got some really good young players and we-ll have to be on our game on the day,” he explained.

Central Coast will again be without influential young players Mathew Ryan and Tomas Rogic who are in Hong Kong with the Qantas Socceroos.

But the Mariners skipper said that everyone from Central Coast's coach to kit man was pleased with the contributions made by their able replacements against Adelaide United in round 9.

“Overall we were very happy with the performances of the boys who came in - they did the job.”

In 27 F3 Derby contests, both Mariners and Jets have claimed nine wins, while there have also been nine draws.

Newcastle Jets vs. Central Coast Mariners - 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Round 10 Saturday 8 December, 2012 Hunter Stadium Kick-off: 7:45pm (local) Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match Transport: Travel from the Central Coast to Hunter Stadium in style on the Mariners' Official Supporter Buses (Coastal Liner Coaches). Please CLICK HERE for more information. Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official match hash-tag for Sunday-s game is #F3Derby National Youth League: Please note the NYL round 8 game between Jets and Mariners will be played as curtain-raiser for the Hyundai A-League contest. NYL kick-off is 5:00pm. Stats Pack: Please CLICK HERE to download the F3 Derby Stats Pack.