One side chasing the Premiers Plate and another chasing a finals berth will face off at Coopers Stadium tonight when Adelaide United host the Central Coast Mariners. Three points will certainly not go amiss for either side, with the regular season rapidly drawing to a close.
The Mariners began a new era with a 1-0 win at home against Melbourne City at the weekend - the Reds failed to trouble the scorers in a disappointing afternoon across the Tasman. The loss was the latest in a string of performances unbefitting of a side with title ambitions and Josep Gombau's men have only taken a solitary point from their last four matches.
In stark contrast, a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Adelaide a month ago has sparked the Mariners into a run of postive performances and Walmsley's men will be itching at the bit to continue that run tonight.
The yellow and navy are still waiting for their first away victory of the 2014/15 campaign, having played out six draws and three losses, they will land in the city of churches brimming with confidence having beaten Gombau’s men on 10 of the last 13 occasions, excluding cup ties.
The form of Isaka Cernak will also go a long way towards three points. The 25-year old, who has previously been on the periphery of selection, is enjoying a renaissance with the Gosford club after starting in their last three matches and exciting fans with his weaving runs and blinding pace. Along with Anthony Caceres rediscovering his creative edge, and John Hutchinson’s impressive return to the starting line-up, fans can be assured of a thrilling end to the regular season.
Where do you start with Fabio Ferreira? The Portuguese winger has been absolutely stunning since making the switch from Adelaide to Gosford, scoring three times and running riot in the open spaces on the right touchline. It’s been a bit like asking Santa for tickets to the big game, but instead you get to meet the players in the locker room. We hoped Ferreira would be good, we prayed he would give us something and he has provided on all fronts five times over.
With a return to Coopers Stadium in his sights, and a hostile crowd at his back, don't be surprised if you see Ferreira firing imaginary arrows into the Adelaide sky, with his trademark grin plastered firmly across his face in the process.
Last time they met, a late show that included goals to Nick Fitzgerald and Josh Rose saw the Central Coast club salvage a win from the jaws of defeat. The final 15 minutes could again prove crucial to the final result - a period in which Adelaide concede almost 40 percent of their goals. In that same time frame, the Mariners have bagged 33 percent of theirs.
Walmsley showed his hand briefly during his first game at the helm, playing a high line in defence and committing numbers to meaningful attacking opportunities. Against an Adelaide side full of speed and agility the yellow and navy could be vulnerable on the counter and as a result may be more cautious with the marauding runs of the wing backs.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Matthew NASH (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 7.John HUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (gk), 14.Travis MAJOR, 15. Matthew SIM, 16.Liam ROSE, 18.Glen TRIFIRO, 20.Anthony KALIK, 23.Isaka CERNAK, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Fabio FERREIRA
***two to be omitted***
Thursday 12 March 2015
Match: Adelaide United vs. Central Coast Mariners – Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 21
Venue: Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-off: 7:30pm (AEDT)
Television: Live on FOX SPORTS 505
Radio: Live on 96.3 Coast FM & ABC Grandstand
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #ADLvCCM #CCMFC