Mariners aim to return to Bluetongue on the back of Victory

The Central Coast Mariners will return to Bluetongue Stadium for the first time in seven weeks this Sunday, but not before a vitally important midweek clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park tomorrow night.

The Central Coast Mariners will return to Bluetongue Stadium for the first time in seven weeks this Sunday, but not before a vitally important midweek clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park tomorrow night.

The Mariners are in a fantastic position on the Hyundai A-League ladder, sitting in third place, just eight points off the top of the table, and with three games in hand over the top two sides, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Couple that with the fact just four of their first 12 matches have been at home, and the Yellow and Navy have every reason to be confident almost halfway through the season.

Three wins in a row, including nine goals for and none against over Perth, North Queensland and Wellington has the side bristling ahead of tomorrow-s fixture, but Head Coach Graham Arnold is refusing to get carried away.

“The players in the last three weeks have set their own benchmark, their own standards. They-ve done exceptionally well and I want to see if we can maintain that.

“If you-re getting results and playing well then there is a (good) atmosphere in the group. There-s nothing that breeds confidence like winning. There-s no self-doubt and there-s a feeling that when you go out on the field you-re going to win, a winning culture becomes a habit and at the moment with us there-s good banter and a good mood in the group,” said Arnold.

Ernie Merrick has hinted of a return for striker Robbie Kruse alongside Archie Thompson, and Arnold is wary of the potency that combination could provide.

“They-re a great side, Victory, and it-s only a matter of time. Archie Thompson has been the best striker in the league for the last five years and Ernie hasn-t had him for a year.

“Robbie Kruse is potentially one of the best strikers in the league and a future Socceroo, so you take those two out of the equation and it leaves a massive hole.

“I-d rather they didn-t come back tomorrow night and they waited for the weekend, but that-s life, that-s the way it is.

“We-re playing well, I-m very happy with the commitment of our players. They-ve got a great mentality, they want to learn, they want to get on the field and work hard. We don-t have any stars but from the first minute to the 90th minute we will fight for every ball we can.

“Our defensive structure is good and it will be a really good test for our defence tomorrow night if Archie and Robbie Kruse play. We want to play against the best teams and the best players,” Arnold said.

Skipper Alex Wilkinson has been one of the main reasons behind a watertight defensive unit to date, which has shipped just eight goals in 12 matches, and none in their past three games.

“When Arnie came in we did a lot of work on our defensive structure and it-s not just the back four, we might get the credit when we keep a clean sheet but it-s the work the boys do in front of us as well, starting with the big boys up front and the midfield.

It-s pleasing that the structure has been put in place and the boys are all understanding their roles, and I think that-s what-s getting the job done at the moment,” Wilkinson said.

The side would dearly love to extend that defensive frugality tomorrow night, and return to their faithful Members and Supporters at a Bluetongue Stadium with a brand new playing surface on Sunday.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD & Sky Sport 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partners are 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN Digital and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE 23. Adrian LEIJER, 27. Geoff KELLAWAY *three to be omitted*

In: Petar FRANJIC (promoted), Robbie KRUSE (returns from injury), Geoff KELLAWAY (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Ricardinho (knee - 4 weeks)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 2 Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 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), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk). *two to be omitted*??

In: Trent SAINSBURY (promoted) ? Out: John HUTCHINSON (international duty)? Unavailable: John HUTCHINSON (international duty), Brad PORTER (knee - 12 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)

Tickets for Sunday-s Hyundai A-League 2010/11 Week 15 ficture between the Central Coast Mariners and Gold Coast United are now available online at or by phoning 132 849.

Sunday-s clash is also EnergyAustralia Kids- Free Day, giving all Primary School aged children free entry with any full paying adult on redemption of a coupon. Details at