Two sides with plenty on the line will face off in tonight's Hyundai A-League fixture as the Central Coast Mariners aim to put an end to their three game losing streak against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park and keep their finals hopes alive.
Statistically, both the Big V and the Mariners boast top shooting accuracy in the Hyundai A-League with the Melbournians converting almost a quarter of their shots on goal into scoreboard pressure for the opposition.
Both sides reflected the stat sheet at the weekend, with Kevin Muscat’s men converting twice from just four attempts to share the spoils with Adelaide United in a 2-all draw. Meanwhile, Nick Montgomery’s injury-time missile salvaged a point for the yellow and navy on #SuperheroSunday in Gosford - a match where the club boasted 60 percent of the possession and fired 11 attempts on goal.
Tony Walmsley’s men have played a free flowing brand of football and will be confident in picking up their first away win of the season against a weakened Victory squad.
Victory head into the clash with several stars missing, including inspirational skipper Mark Milligan who is in Europe with the Socceroos as well as Kosta Barbarouses (back injury), Jason Geria (Olyroos), Connor Pain (Olyroos) and the man who scored a stunning strike against the Mariners at North Sydney Oval back in December - Daniel Georgievski (Macedonia).
Not without personnel problems, Central Coast will be without New Zealand All-White right back Storm Roux and former Sandonà Jesolo defender Jacob Poscoliero - the latter succumbing to an injury that forced him from the field after only 25 minutes against Perth.
This opens the door for Eddy Bosnar to return from suspension and partner Zac Anderson in defence, as well as Hayden Morton who has the chance to consolidate his place in the senior squad whilst lining up next to Josh Rose who will make his 150th Hyundai A-League appearance. 21-year old Morton has been hampered by injury in recent seasons and is a product of the Mariners famed youth system.
There is one man the yellow and navy will need to be cautious of on the slick AAMI Park surface, in the Hyundai A-League’s form player, Fahid Ben Khalfallah. Sharp feet, inspired vision, true strength and a venomous right boot from distance make the Tunisian a scary prospect for any side, and his confidence will be sky high after scoring the opener against the Reds in his last outing.
The last time they met, a devastating 11-minute spell from the Victory saw them complete a comfortable 3-0 win at North Sydney Oval, where Berisha, Pain and Georgievski all found the net. The result was the third consecutive time the Central Coast shipped three goals to Melbourne, and their third loss on the trot against the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 Champions.
Like the Glory, Melbourne have the pace and artillery to catch teams on the counter, but with quality missing, it will be important for the Mariners to take control of the game in its early stages. Muscat's men relish time on the ball to find space in behind the defence and open up the channels down the flanks that makes Walmsley's high-pressing game a tactic to shut down Melbourne.
Friday March 27, 2015
Match: Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners - Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 23
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Television: Live on FOX SPORTS 505 & SBS One
Radio: Live on 96.3 Coast FM & ABC Grandstand
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #MVCvCCM #CCMFC