No day off for Mariners on Public Holiday

Central Coast Mariners football manager Lawrie McKinna has his eyes firmly focused on sending his side to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder, and knows victory against arch-rival Sydney FC on Monday would go a long way to achieving that goal.

Central Coast Mariners football manager Lawrie McKinna has his eyes firmly focused on sending his side to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder, and knows victory against arch-rival Sydney FC on Monday would go a long way to achieving that goal.

Should Perth Glory fail to beat North Queensland at ME Bank Stadium, Monday-s clash would represent a chance for both sides to claim the summit, exactly a third of the way through the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season.

The Mariners head into Monday-s local derby on the back of a taxing trip to Wellington, where they ground out a hard-fought nil-all draw in blustery conditions.

"It was a hard away game, hard traveling, hard everything. We got a point, it was a solid performance, and we-re going into the Sydney game in a positive mood," said McKinna.

"Nobody needs to lift for this game, the boys love playing against Sydney down there, there-ll be a great atmosphere, the Cove will get right behind them, and I-m sure it being a holiday we-ll get a big following.

"The last game down there, the 3-all game was something special, so hopefully we can conjure up something like that again."

The Central Coast-s defensive record has been heavily publicized through the early part of the season, with the club conceding just four goals through the opening eight rounds, and not letting an opponent score more than once in any Hyundai A-League match this campaign.

"We copped a lot of criticism at the end of the last season, but we-ve got a great defensive record - OK we-re not scoring as freely as we did last season, but we-ve got the second best goal difference in the league.

"Again we-ll have to work on our defensive duties, (Alex) Brosque and (Mark) Bridge do well against us generally so hopefully the boys at the back can nullify them, look to build on a solid midfield performance and the strikers taking a couple of chances," McKinna said.

Similarly, Sydney too have an impressive record at the back, Viteslav Lavicka-s side has only shipped three more goals than their nearest neighbours, giving them the second best performing defence in the league, to sit in second spot on the ladder.

"Definitely a side to be wary of and they-re pretty solid. They-re very well organized, and in patches are playing some really good football as well.

"They-ve got some great players, and a few injuries, I-m not sure what the team will be, but it comes down to getting results. Simon Colosimo came out last week and said that, and I totally agree with him, it-s all about winning games, and if they scrap out a 1-nil victory against us I-m sure the thousands in the Cove won-t care, and I-m sure if we scrape out a 1-nil victory our fans won-t care either.

"Both teams will be going at it, both teams will be going to win, and we-ll see what happens on the day," said McKinna.

The Central Coast would be hoping to erase memories of a frustrating afternoon at Bluetongue Stadium the last time the two sides met, when McKinna-s side failed to take advantage of a last minute penalty, to settle for a scoreless draw.

"It was a frustrating afternoon. It was a fair result at the finish, I-ve said that before, but when you get a penalty in the 90th minute you should take it and take the three points. It was pretty frustrating but I-m expecting much the same (type of game).

"Depending when goals are scored will mean how much the game opens up but both teams will be a bit cagey, but both teams will want three points because we could go top of the league.

With Brad Porter back in contention after missing last week-s trip across the Tasman, McKinna may tinker with his squad, but has indicated he-s keen to stick with a similar lineup.

"There won-t be many changes, everybody is fine from last week, it was a solid performance.

"Nik Mrdja could come into the reckoning depending on Matt Simon, he-s not trained much this week so we-ll see what he-s like tomorrow and then make a decision on the starting 11 and the 15.

"This is the most fit players we-ve had in the history of the club. Pre-season was short which was great, and the boys are coming into full fitness now, which shows in the little amount of players who have been injured," McKinna said.

*Head-to-Head: Played 14: Sydney FC wins 6, Central Coast Mariners wins 4, Drawn 4

Monday, 5 October 2009 Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney Local kick-off: 3.00pm

Sydney FC squad:

1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 12. Shannon COLE, 13. Antony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15.Terry MCFLYNN, 16. Chris PAYNE, 18. Adam CASEY, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN *three to be omitted*

In: Stephan KELLER (returns from injury), John ALOISI (returns from injury), Terry MCFLYNN (returns from injury)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Mitchell PRENTICE (back - 1 week), Kofi DANNING (international duty), Matthew JURMAN (international duty), Rhyan GRANT (international duty)

Central Coast Mariners squad: Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2. Matthew CROWELL, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Matthew RYAN (gk)? *two to be omitted*

In: Brad PORTER (return from injury), Nik MRDJA (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Shane HUKE (knee - 1 week), Andrew REDMAYNE (international duty)

Referee: Matthew Breeze

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against North Queensland Fury on Sunday, 11 October. Kick-off is at 3:00pm. Tickets for this match are available online at www.ticketek.com.au or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online at www.ccmariners.com.au or by phoning 1300 767 442.