After kicking of 2016 with a win, the Central Coast Mariners are primed to take on Melbourne Victory at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium. Let’s hear from some of the key personnel heading into Hyundai A-League round 14.
It was a revamped Mariners side that defeated Wellington Phoenix on the last day of 2015 where Head Coach Tony Walmsley experimented with a fresh midfield combination that paid dividends.
Depsite Walmsley’s three new recruits that will make up a new-look bench, the starting XI has done themselves a great deal of favours heading into Friday’s clash against the reigning Hyundai A-League Champions.
Roy O’Donovan’s suspension will force Walmsley to make a change in the front third and could also see more attacking stocks added to his line up during the January transfer window.
17-year-old Central Coast local, Trent Buhagiar has also been named in the provisional squad and has the chance to make his Hyundai A-League debut.
- Central Coast Mariners have made 370 interceptions so far this season, by far the most of any team (Phoenix 311).
- Nick Montgomery has contested 152 duels this season, the fourth most of any player and one of only four players to make more than 150
“It was a fantastic effort for the boys to pick up a very good three points last week from a very good performance, anything less than three points from that output would have been sacrilege. It was very resourceful, it was very courageous and they played for the badge on the front of their shirt, not the name on their back,” Walmsley said.
“At this stage Tommy [Heward-Belle] has done nothing wrong in the two appearances he’s had, going into a big game and our best performance of the season I don’t think it would be wise to make too many changes.
“Our three new signings are travelling, it’s exciting and there’s a freshness about it. Last week was such a commanding performance and we’ve been saying all season it’s about reliability and repeatability so against Victory away is a great opportunity for those guys [from last game] to repeat.
“Bingham has been doing great, he’s developed so quickly and he will be a real handful for their centre backs tomorrow night.
“We signed Buhagiar during the week and I didn’t even know if he brought his gear to travel this morning but I made a decision yesterday when he gave Storm Roux a five yard start and he had gone past him in about fifteen yards. Let’s just see how he goes, whether he gets on the pitch or not he will gain a lot of experience travelling with the first team,” Walmsley said.
“The Club has been great to me, they’ve given me a massive opportunity but I’m just here to do my job,” Heward-Belle said.
“Coming on against Sydney to face a penalty isn’t the greatest way to start but once I made my first save five minutes later it got easier from there and I felt like I did a job for the team on New Year’s Eve.
“The team worked really hard for me [against Wellington Phoenix] and when they were a little bit unlucky I was just happy to be there.
“The experienced players in the squad have been massive for me, they gave me the confidence to be able to go from National Youth League to playing in the Hyundai A-League.
“Nashy has been amazing, he’s taught me a lot in a very short period of time, a massive confidence booster and a good lad,” Heward-Belle said.
“You always want to contribute to the team, I haven’t played in the midfield for quite a while now but having three men running box to box gave us extra security,” Neill said.
“It was very exciting for me, once you’re out of the squad for a while you have to work a little bit harder to get yourself back in but I was stoked to get the opportunity and for the team to pick up three points.
“The celebration was a sign of unity, we’ve done it really tough and I think the penny has dropped and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.
“We will stick to our game plan tomorrow night, we just have to prepare like it’s any other game and get the three points..
“I enjoyed the last two games I’ve played in the midfield and I’m looking forward to getting back in there,” Neill said.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Alastair BRAY (GK), 15.Matthew SIM, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Francesco STELLA, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Anthony KALIK, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 23.Tomislav USKOK, 40.Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK)
**two to be omitted**
Friday 8 January 2016
Match: Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne Victory
Venue: Simonds Stadium, Geelong
Kick-off: 7:40pm (AEDT)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 & SBS TWO
Radio Broadcast: 96.3 Coast FM
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #CCMvMVC & #CCMFC