Quest for clean sheet spearheaded by Boogaard

At this stage of the Central Coast Mariners’ Premiership winning third Hyundai A-League season, the yellow and navy had recorded a club record five clean sheets from seven starts and it’s that type of form that Nigel Boogaard and his team-mates will be trying to replicate on Sunday.

At this stage of the Central Coast Mariners- Premiership winning third Hyundai A-League season, the yellow and navy had recorded a club record five clean sheets from seven starts and it-s that type of form that Nigel Boogaard and his team-mates will be trying to replicate on Sunday.

Boogaard has been at the heart of the Mariners backline for all but one match of the clubs Hyundai A-League season to date and having started each of the aforementioned seven matches in 2007/08, knows better than most what is required to shore up the Central Coast backline.

Thus far, the Mariners- season four defensive stocks have included a cast of Australian youth internationals - Boogaard, Pedj Bojic, David D-Apuzzo, Matthew Osman, Bradley Porter and Alex Wilkinson, in addition to the experience of local product Andrew Clark, and despite the odd setback have shown great potential to emulate the feats of line ups from past seasons.

The Mariners head into Sunday-s clash against the Wellington Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium four points from the top of the Hyundai A-League and one point clear of the fifth placed Queensland Roar, desperate to mount a serious challenge to their Premiership defence.

"The boys are looking to start off the second round of the Hyundai A-League well, we-ve got ourselves in a decent position at this stage of the season and we-re looking to push on from here and make a charge for the Finals Series," said Boogaard.

"It-s been spoken about at training that we had a better clean sheet record last year than we have this year and I think that-s the key - to lock things up at back.

"Last year we were getting away with one or two nil victories and keeping a clean sheet is the most important thing for us at this stage."

Boogaard, who celebrated his 30th competitive appearance for the yellow and navy last outing, will be hoping to contribute to what would be the Mariners- second clean sheet of season four on Sunday.

Boogaard has been a permanent fixture in the Mariners- backline after missing the clubs opening game of the new campaign away to the Newcastle Jets.

During such time, the Mariners have conceded twelve goals in seven matches - a figure that is nullified somewhat by the amazing tally of strikes the Mariners have posted at the opposite end of the pitch, 16, an average of over two goals per match, with Boogaard himself contributing at least one assist in the process.

It was against Sunday-s opponents, the Wellington Phoenix, that Boogaard and his Mariners team-mates were at their best defensively last season, with the Mariners recording three straight clean sheets against their Trans Tasman opponents in competitive fixtures at Bluetongue Stadium.

"The Phoenix try to play an attacking brand of football and they-ve shown that they do like to attack and with Smeltz in some form it-s going to be a challenge for Alex Wilkinson and myself," said Boogaard.

"We-re definitely up for it, hopefully we can keep them quiet and keep that clean sheet."

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign continues at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday, 19 October, when they host the Wellington Phoenix in Round 8. Kick off is at 3pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.