Stakes of Victory keep rising for Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners will return to the scene of one of the more unlikely triumphs of this Hyundai A-League campaign, confident they can repeat a dose of the 2-nil scoreline inflicted on defending double winner Melbourne Victory back in August.

The Central Coast Mariners will return to the scene of one of the more unlikely triumphs of this Hyundai A-League campaign, confident they can repeat a dose of the 2-nil scoreline inflicted on defending double winner Melbourne Victory back in August.

Michael McGlinchey and Matt Simon were on the scoresheet that night, and Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna insists picking up three points at Etihad Stadium this Saturday could be the most crucial of the campaign.

"We need to, because the table is so tight. With Wellington winning (against Newcastle on Wednesday) there is only a few points between top and bottom, and it-s important we get a result down there.

"The last one was great, we defended fantastically, and there is no reason why we can-t do it again," McKinna said.

The Victory is arguably the form team at the halfway mark of season five, having won six of their past seven matches to sit in second place in 24 points, one off top-placed Sydney FC, and crucially, four clear of nearest challenger Gold Coast United.

"It-s important for us to have a good result as well. They (Melbourne) had a good result in Perth last week although Perth should have been up at half time, they missed a few chances and (Glen) Moss made a great save right on half time, so they-re going to be hard to beat.

"They-ll have 20-25 thousand people at Etihad Stadium screaming them on so we need to be on top of our game," said McKinna.

The Mariners boss will be forced to shuffle his pack to some degree, with Matthew Crowell sitting out of the fixture after being sent off late in last weekend-s scoreless draw with Adelaide United in Canberra, and New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey racing against the clock to overcome an ankle injury picked up in that same match.

"(Matthew) Crowell is going to be missing and (Michael) McGlinchey is 50-50 at the moment. Our midfield did well against Adelaide but two of those could be gone.

"If he-s not 100% we-ll not play him. Not because of the New Zealand thing but we don-t want to play a boy who-s not fully fit. If he puts his hand up and says he-s right then he-ll play, if not then he can get ready for his World Cup date the week after.

"We wont be doing anything stupid and forcing him, it-s too big of a game to go in with a player who isn-t match fit and use up a substitute too early," McKinna said.

The Central Coast is in the middle of an extended run of matches away from home, with Saturday-s fixture in Melbourne and a trip to Townsville to face North Queensland in two weeks time still to come, before a return to Bluetongue Stadium for six home matches in the space of nine weeks.

Knowing such a long stretch at home is just around the corner only adds to the incentive of picking up as many points on the road as possible.

"We knew three weeks ago when we started going on the road that we needed to get as many results as we could so we could keep in touch when we started playing all the home games.

"The boys love playing down there, we-re training down there on Friday afternoon and then the game on Saturday. The games just get bigger as the season goes on," said McKinna.

Saturday-s match at Etihad Stadium marks Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson-s 100th Hyundai A-League appearance, becoming the first Central Coast player to achieve such an honour.

Wilkinson made his A-League debut in the first ever fixture, a 1-nil victory over Perth in August 2005 at ME Bank Stadium, and went on to establish himself as a cornerstone in McKinna-s eleven, inheriting the captains armband following the departure of inaugural captain Noel Spencer at the end of the 2006/07 season.

Wilkinson scored his first, and so far only Hyundai A-League goal in round five of this season, in a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at Canberra Stadium.

Wilkinson, and the rest of his Central Coast teammates will be vying for the inaugural Epworth ABI Cup at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

In a joint venture between Melbourne Victory, TAC, Epworth HealthCare and Victoria Police, the Epworth ABI Cup will help raise awareness of Acquired Brain Injury and the community cost of road trauma.

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Perth Glory on Friday, 27 November. Kick-off is at 8:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now on sale by clicking here

*Head-to-Heads: Played 13: Melbourne Victory wins 6, Central Coast Mariners wins 4 (3 draws)

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27.Sutee SUKSOMKIT *three to be omitted*

In: Evan BERGER (return from injury), Robbie KRUSE (return from injury), Surat SUKHA (return from injury)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Marvin ANGULO (pending registration), Billy CELESKI (knee - season), Steven PACE (calf - 2 weeks), Tom PONDELJAK (calf - 2 weeks), Nick WARD (infection - 1 week)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. David D'APUZZO, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Nicky TRAVIS, 23. Adam KWASNIK *two to be omitted*

In: Dylan MACALLISTER (promoted), Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Andrew CLARK (promoted)

Out: Matthew CROWELL (suspended - 1 week)

Unavailable: Nil

Referee: Strebre Delovski