After taking a point and a clean sheet against Wellington on New Year’s Eve, the Mariners are looking forward to kicking off 2018 with a win. The Yellow and Navy take on Melbourne Victory in Geelong this weekend, and attacker Connor Pain will be particularly keen to steal three points from his former club.
“We want three points against anybody, but it’s extra special going home, playing against old teammates and old friends. Hopefully we can put on a good show,” Pain said.
“We’re feeling pretty positive. Obviously the last four weeks haven’t really gone to plan, but Paolo drilled it home this morning that we believe in what we’re doing. We all need to keep believing in the philosophies that we’re being taught and we’re putting into practice, and we’re hoping to go into the New Year with a positive result this weekend,” Pain said.
The previous time the Mariners took on Melbourne Victory was back in October for Pink Round. Pain got the attention of his former club in the second half, with a searing strike from the edge of the 18-yard box that gave his side the lead. The left-winger is hoping to feature more on the scoresheet, and help the team put in a quality performance against an in-form Melbourne Victory.
“It’s a been a while since I scored, and it was good to score against Melbourne Victory.” Pain said. “A goal against any team would be good really, we need to start scoring a few more goals so whoever that is that scores on the weekend, hopefully we can get one or two and put the pressure right on again.
“We believe that what we’re doing will play dividends eventually. They’re a really strong outfit and have started to hit some really strong form since we last played them, but we go there full of confidence and it should be a good match up,” Pain said.
Despite a strong showing in Gosford last Sunday, the Mariners had to settle for one point against the ‘Nix. Paul Okon’s squad believe they can earn better results, and a draw against Wellington will spur them on to notch up more wins.
It’s fair to say that Pain and the Mariners were not satisfied with a draw to round out 2017.
“The good thing about this season is we’re not happy with 0-0.” Pain said. “We’re not happy with a point against anybody, so for us it was disappointing to come away without three points when we really needed it. But we reset and go again, and we believe we can beat anybody.”
“It’s the consistent attacks on goal that we need to keep getting better at, making more forward runs and getting ourselves into more genuine and obvious goal scoring opportunities. We’re in good areas, we need that final pass to be right, and the runs to be good and we’ll be on goal a lot more.
“We were definitely looking better at it against Wellington than we have done in previous weeks, so hopefully we can go down to Melbourne on the weekend and put it into practice again,” Pain said.
Despite some disappointing results, the team is keeping faith in each other, a confidence which Pain attributes to Paul Okon’s passionate believe in his squad.
“Paolo just wants us to keep our heads up. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves sometimes, and that’s what he drilled home to us: that we need to believe completely in the system and each other, and band together. We’re a very tight group, and we need to just stick together and go again.”
The Central Coast squad is certainly a close-knit team, and Connor Pain took the opportunity to praise his fellow players, including his housemate Storm Roux.
“It was great playing with Storm Roux again. Rowlesy [Kye Rowles] did a great job for the majority of the game, but he is a young body and he had to come off while he is getting up to speed with the game as a 19-year-old. So, when Storm came on, obviously we have a good rapport, we live together, so I felt really comfortable playing with him. Whoever is behind me on the weekend, I’m sure it will be great,” Pain said.
The Central Coast go into this weekend’s clash with high hopes, and Geelong may provide high temperatures to match - but not even 40-degree heat can dissuade the positive energy of the Yellow and Navy.
“It’s going to be tough for both sides. Knowing Geelong and having played there before – it’s even hotter than the temperature forecast in Melbourne.” Pain said. “There’s no shade, it’s going to be a dog fight; but we go down there full of confidence and hopefully we can get the three points.”