Mariners face litmus test on Sunset strip

The Central Coast Mariners will face arguably the biggest test of their pre-season so far this weekend, when they travel to Australia’s glamour coast to take on Hyundai A-League newcomers Gold Coast United at Skilled Park this Saturday night.

The Central Coast Mariners will face arguably the biggest test of their pre-season so far this weekend, when they travel to Australia-s glamour coast to take on Hyundai A-League newcomers Gold Coast United at Skilled Park this Saturday night.

After strong recruiting, including the likes of Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina and New Zealand All White Shane Smeltz, as well as former Central Coast Mariners favourite Matt Osman and Coast junior Jess Vanstratten, the new franchise has made waves in the early part of its existence, capped with a 2-1 win over English Premier League side Fulham last week.

"We-re looking forward to the challenge. We had a couple of solid hitouts in Canberra which the boys can learn a lot from, had a good week down there and the boys are refreshed and excited about going up to the Gold Coast," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"It-ll be good to catch up with Matty (Osman) again and find out how he-s going, obviously Miron (Bleiberg) will know what he wants to get out of the match, and Clive Palmer has already said they-ll win the league undefeated in their first season, so I suppose we-ll have to go up there and lose!” joked McKinna.

"No, we won-t be doing that, we-re undefeated so far in pre-season, it-s only a short time until the first game against Melbourne, so we-ll be going up there looking for a good performance and hopefully getting a result, and being the first team to do so against the new boys," said McKinna.

While United remain unbeaten throughout their short existence, so to the Mariners this pre-season campaign, their five-match run without loss punctuated by wins over North Queensland and a draw against Sydney FC.

"We-ve been playing OK, obviously its hard when you-ve only got five weeks to prepare but the boys have looked good on occasion, the second half against Belconnen was good and we played well against Sydney even though they-d played 10 games and we were only a week back.

"We know they-re going to be a good side, they beat Fulham last week which was a great result for them, and the rest of the league, but we know what we have to do, and it-s still only early, so our performance will mean just as much, if not more than the result,” said McKinna.

The match will not only give the Mariners squad to test itself against a squad many are tipping to be heavyweights this Hyundai A-League campaign, but will also give McKinna a chance to cast his eye over trialist Michael McGlinchey, who has begun training with the yellow and navy following his release from Scottish Premier League giants Celtic.

"Michael-s come in and has a good pedigree, even though he-s a Celtic lad, but no, he-s done well over there and looking for a chance over here, so he-ll give us another option in midfield, and he can play up front as well so we-ll see how he goes this week and again next week in Dubbo," said McKinna.

“We-ve also got a young ‘keeper from the youth squad Matty Ryan to come in and work with Danny (Vukovic) while Andrew Redmayne is away, and we-re still looking for one or two more faces before the start of the season.

“Gary Wales did well when he was on trial with us last week and we-ll have a look at a few more between now and Melbourne on August 6,” said McKinna.

Tickets for Saturday-s match are limited to 5,000, and are $30 for Adults and $17 for children. For more details go to www.goldcoastunited.com.au

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.