The Central Coast Mariners will be looking to finish the season on a high against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park and build on the momentum of Sunday's #F3Derby win.
The #F3Derby win saw Paul Okon's side rise two positions into eighth as the Mariners will look to secure that spot with a win over Victory.
To be certain of finishing ahead of the Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United, Central Coast (23 points, -20 goal difference) need to win at AAMI Park but even a draw could be enough to keep them ahead of either the Reds (22, -21) or the Jets (22, -23).
The Mariners exhibited an impressive ability to travel early in the season - they picked up five points from their first four away matches.
Victory have won their past five home games against Central Coast and haven't lost at home to the Mariners since 2009 - a run of nine matches.
Victory started to show some better form in last week's scoreless draw with Western Sydney Wanderers - the visitors had 58.1 per cent possession in the first half - but had to hold on after the interval following Daniel Georgievski's red card in the 53rd minute.
Georgievski is the only player unavailable this week, with Leigh Broxham likely to debutise at left-back, while Jason Geria and Alan Baro are expected to return to the back four after serving suspensions in Round 26.
Without a win in three games, Victory are in the worst form of the A-League top six since the start of March's international window.
The Big V have second spot sewn up, so they'll get a rest next week, but are desperate not to enter their semi-final on a four-game winless run.
There has been late change to the Mariners’ provisional squad. Jacob Poscoliero has recovered from his quad injury to replace Harry Ascroft who sustained an ankle injury against the Newcastle Jets. Poscoliero travelled with the team to Melbourne.
Paolo in the Press
“We’re coming off the back of a positive result against Newcastle but now we move onto Melbourne Victory who are one of the best teams in the competition and we know that it’s going to be a very difficult game,” Okon said. “In saying that our approach will be no different to any other game and we will play our football.
“We’re aware of how easily they can hurt an opposition and we need to make sure we stay switched on for the full 90 minutes otherwise they can score easy goals.
“It’s extremely important that we finish the season in the best possible manner, I think last week was a massive step forward for us and we would like to finish the season as high up the table as possible. We play on Friday, Adelaide and Newcastle play on Saturday. That’s not our focus right now but we certainly need to make sure that we perform on Friday because we don’t want to be coming home with our ladder position being out of our hands.
“First and foremost, we want to win this football game, like we’ve wanted to win the previous 26. We know if we perform we are a good chance of getting a positive result which will see us maintain that position in eighth spot.
“We’re in a position where it’s entirely down to us which is something we spoke about in the lead up to the Newcastle game, that’s why the result was very important for us. We go into this game knowing that we need to perform because Melbourne Victory will want to end their season before going into the finals in the best possible manner so we know they will come at us hard and we need to be able to deal with that.
“We are expecting them to put out a full-strength side because they will get a rest the following week and I’m sure everyone will want to put their hand up to start in two weeks time in the finals. Besart Berisha is one goal short of 100, he’s in the running for golden boot so he will want to score goals and if Bes’ wants to score goals that’s usually what he does so we will need to match that and hopefully the boys are up for the challenge.
“What was pleasing last Sunday was our attitude, our mentality. We’ve always played good football and I think some of the best football in the A-League this season but we’ve had moments in games where we’ve either switched off or we’ve been resting and opposition teams have hurt us. On Sunday we played from the first minute to the last minute, we played those important moments like a team that’s going into the finals. Moving forward that’s what we want to see more of next season because if we are serious about playing finals we need to put together more of those type of performances.
Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 32.Cameron MCGILP, 40.Matt ACTON (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY,4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 26.Steve WHYTE, 27.Lachlan WALES
**two to be omitted**
Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Round 27
Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners
Friday 14 April 2017
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Social Media: #MVCvCCM #CCMFC