Resilient Mariners target derby glory
The Central Coast Mariners have been dealt a pair of injury blows to an already depleted squad ahead of tomorrow’s blockbuster derby clash at Bluetongue Stadium against the Newcastle Jets, but remain committed and focused towards what would be a famous Hyundai A-League triumph.
The Central Coast Mariners have been dealt a pair of injury blows to an already depleted squad ahead of tomorrow-s blockbuster derby clash at Bluetongue Stadium against the Newcastle Jets, but remain committed and focused towards what would be a famous Hyundai A-League triumph.
Defenders Nigel Boogaard and Andrew Clark have been ruled out with concussion and shoulder concerns respectively, adding to a casualty ward that also includes long-term sufferers Ahmad Elrich and Dean Heffernan.
Furthermore, Andre Gumprecht and Greg Owens are each short of the condition required for the frenetic pace of an F3 derby, but will take further steps on their respective roads to regaining full match fitness when appearing for the Mariners- National Youth League (NYL) side in the curtain raiser to tomorrow-s fixture.
New signing Andrea Merenda is sweating on receiving an international clearance from his Italian homeland in order to join Gumprecht and Owens in the first ever NYL F3 derby, while Qantas Young Socceroos shot stopper Andrew Redmayne is a confirmed non-starter due to his involvement with Australia-s qualification quest for the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
To compensate for the Mariners- lengthy absentees list, David D-Apuzzo and Nik Mrdja have been drafted into the yellow and navy line up, while Matthew Nash will deputize for incumbent custodian Danny Vukovic.
Despite being faced with considerable adversity, the Mariners will still be represented by a line up brimming with F3 derby experience, including four players - John Hutchinson, Mrdja, Matthew Osman and Alex Wilkinson - that contributed to the first ever fixture between the Mariners and the Jets over three years ago.
"Last week was a poor performance, we-ve said it and we have to move on, it-s a short turnaround this week and the intensity at training has been fantastic," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.
"Everyone is switched on and working very hard, we-re going to be without Andrew Clark and Nigel Boogaard but we-ve got able bodies to come in - it-s going to be a big night at Bluetongue Stadium."
The F3 derby - perhaps the fiercest derby battle in the Hyundai A-League, brings together the Hyundai A-League-s only two regionally based clubs, both of which reside on the east coast of Australia at home grounds that sit within 80 kilometres of each other.
Furthest north are the Newcastle Jets, who represent the vast Hunter region of northern New South Wales.
Approximately a one-hour drive south of Newcastle begins the Central Coast - an idyllic ninety-kilometre stretch that hugs the east coast of Australia and is home to the Mariners - the region-s only representation to compete in a nation wide sporting competition.
The Mariners- first ever competitive fixture was against the Jets and virtually every match up between the two clubs that has ensued has been history making in some sense.
The first time the Mariners recorded a five-figure home attendance was on 31 December 2005 when the Jets suffered a 4-1 defeat at Bluetongue Stadium in front of 11,612 spectators.
Two seasons further on, the Mariners recorded their largest ever crowd, 19,238, in a regular season match against their northern rivals.
Less than one month later, the Mariners hoisted the full house sign at Bluetongue Stadium for the first time ever when hosting the Jets in a Major Semi Final - 2nd Leg blockbuster.
Tomorrow-s match between the Mariners and the Jets marks the eighteenth occasion the two sides have met in all competitive fixtures - the most times that any two Hyundai A-League opponents have met each other.
Before the Mariners- unforgettable 3-0 triumph over the Jets at Bluetongue Stadium in the Major Semi Final - 2nd Leg match up of last season-s Hyundai A-League Finals Series, Newcastle had enjoyed a lengthy purple patch of F3 derby form that saw the Mariners winless in Hyundai A-League derby clashes for some two years.
In total, the Jets have claimed six derby wins in response to five Mariners triumphs and there have been six draws between the two sides.
The Mariners have netted 17 goals in such time, while the Jets have scored 17 goals of their own.
Should the Mariners claim all three points on Friday, they will claim a regular season Hyundai A-League win over the Jets for the first time since New Year-s Eve 2005, which is the solitary occasion the yellow and navy have claimed east coast bragging rights in a non-Finals Series or pre-season competition fixture.
"The Jets are always hard, it doesn-t matter if they-re struggling or not, for a local derby form goes out the window, it-s passionate, it-s physical and it-s going to be a hard game," said McKinna.
"In three and a half years the F3 derby has definitely grown, we always had passion on the park, but I think this is the one game where our Members and supporters want the bragging rights."
Central Coast Mariners vs. Newcastle Jets
Bluetongue Stadium - Friday, 24 October 2008, Kick off 8pm
DOB 3 Apr, 1981
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The Mariners- Hyundai A-League season continues at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday, 24 October when they host northern rivals the Newcastle Jets. Kick off is at 8pm.
Prior to the main game, the Mariners- National Youth League (NYL) campaign will continue with the first ever F3 NYL derby between the Mariners and the Jets. Kick off is at 5.15pm.
Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.