Mariners want second all for themselves

The Central Coast Mariners will be gunning for outright second spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, when they tackle Perth Glory in their Week 23 clash at nib Stadium tomorrow night.

The Central Coast Mariners will be gunning for outright second spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, when they tackle Perth Glory in their Week 23 clash at nib Stadium tomorrow night.

The Mariners currently hold second on goal difference but can kick clear of Adelaide United by picking up three points in the West, a venue the side has an impressive record at, having lost just twice there in eight trip across the Nullarbor.

“We-ve built ourselves up this year and we-re sitting in a good position,” said Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold.

“Tomorrow is our other game in hand on Adelaide so as long as we get something out of the game then that would be great, but if not we-d still be on the same points as Adelaide with three games to go.”

It is an arduous week for the Yellow and Navy, with the club-s longest road-trip bookended by two local derbies. They did the job in the F3 derby against Newcastle on Sunday, and Arnold is confident there is more than enough petrol in the tank to come through with the goods against Perth and then again on Sunday in a Bluetongue Stadium blockbuster against Sydney.

“Everyone has to do it and the boys have recovered well after the derby on Sunday.

“We-re looking forward to a very difficult game tomorrow night, we had to endure three tough games last week and the same this week but there is no use complaining about it, we just have to get on with it and the boys are fit and keen, and ready to put on a good performance,” said Arnold.

With six games in just 26 days to finish the season, including trips to Adelaide, Melbourne Heart and the Gold Coast, Arnold will need all of his available troops firing on all cylinders, and the Mariners mentor is delighted with the depth he has at his disposal.

“It-s about the entire squad that we have tried to build, not all about two or three players.

“Patrick Zwaanswijk is out of this game, he played three games last week and is 36 years of age, Josh Rose isn-t here as well but we have created depth with the youngsters. Maybe had we had this period at the start of the season some youngsters wouldn-t have been ready but they-ve shown throughout the year they are capable of stepping up.

“Mat Ryan has been superb in goal and has the number one role to himself at the moment, Trent Sainsbury has had regular game time and has done well when he has played, as has young Musti (Amini).

“We have quite a bit of depth and there-s no excuses, there are a couple of players out but that-s why we have a squad of 22 players, it-s all about getting the fittest and freshest players out on the field,” Arnold said.

The Mariners could potentially cut the gap between them and competition leader Brisbane Roar to just four points by the end of the week, but while Arnold doesn-t want to think too far ahead, he admits he is immensely proud of how far his squad has come since taking the reins seven months ago.

“They-ve worked extremely hard, and Andrew Clark and the medical staff have done a fantastic job in getting the players where they are at physically at the moment.

“I am very proud of the way the boys have carried themselves so far this season but we-re at the business end of the season now so there is no time to reflect on what we-ve done, we have a wonderful opportunity and every day I ask the boys for consistency and commitment, and that-s what they have given me since day one.

“Our goals for a club with no marquee player and with a youth policy, we are sitting in a very good position. At the start of the season our goals were top six, we changed them to top four, and I think we have pretty much cemented a top four position now so lets go for top two,” Arnold said.

While the playing squad will recover in Perth following Wednesday night-s clash, as soon as the referee blows full time, Arnold-s attention will immediately turn to Sunday-s Southern Derby with a rejuvenated Sydney FC, as he boards a red-eye flight back to the East Coast, and reports for a Thursday morning training session with the remaining squad members.

“Sometimes when players are tired and in the middle of a heavy schedule, there is nothing better than to have a derby. In the past there have been some wonderful games between Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners.

“We-re at home, they have to come up the road to us and they haven-t had a midweek game so they will be fresh, but I know the mentality that we have in this squad that we will be ready to go on Sunday, and we hope that the players are rewarded with a big crowd.

“I appeal to the Mariners Members and supporters to come out in droves because Sydney FC will bring up 1500 people. They probably see this as their last chance to make the top six so they-ll come up with a lot of people on Sunday but it-s our home ground and we want to make sure that Sydney FC-s chanting is drowned out by our own supporters,” said Arnold.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season will be against Perth Glory, tomorrow, Wednesday, 19 January at nib Stadium, Perth.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD and Sky Sports 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club broadcast partners are 6PR 882AM (Perth) and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au.

Head-to-Head:All matches (played 17): Perth Glory wins 2, Central Coast Mariners wins 10 (5 draws)

Perth Glory: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Josh MITCHELL, 4.Andy TODD, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 9.Robbie FOWLER, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Tommy AMPHLETT, 14.Steven McGARRY, 15.Howard FONDYKE, 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17. Todd HOWARTH, 18.Brent GRIFFITHS, 20.Alex PEARSON (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 22.Anthony SKORICH, 24.Josh RISDON, 26. Adam TAGGERT *two to be omitted*

In: Josh RISDON (promoted), Brent GRIFFITHS (promoted) Out: Branco JELIC (ankle - 1 week), Jamie COYNE (omitted) Unavailable: Chris COYNE (achilles - season), Victor SIKORA (hip - season), Naum SEKULOVSKI (knee - 1 week), Jacob BURNS (suspended - 1 match)

Central Coast Mariners: 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11.Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 13. Michael BAIRD, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 21. Sam GALLAGHER, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON. *four to be omitted*

In: Daniel McBREEN, Matthew LEWIS, Chris DOIG, Sam GALLAGHER, Mustafa AMINI (all promoted) Out: Patrick ZWAANSWIJK (rested) Unavailable: Brad PORTER (knee - 8 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee - 8 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)

Referee: Ryan SHEPHEARD