This Sunday the Central Coast Mariners will head to AAMI Park for a tough test against Melbourne City. Let’s hear from the Head Coach and key players leading into Hyundai A-League Round 20.
Out of the Mariners’ camp, all eyes will be on 17-year-old International Football School Student, Trent Buhagiar who could make his starting debut in replacement for Luis Garcia who may assume his initial role with the Yellow & Navy as an impact player off the bench.
Walmsley plans to get on the attacking front foot against a dangerous City who boast the Hyundai A-League’s highest goal scorer (Bruno Fornaroli) as well as the league’s leader in assists (Aaron Mooy).
Harry Ascroft will return after his one match suspension, which comes as perfect timing as Jake McGing has been ruled out with a minor gluteus tear. Although, Walmsley will be tasked with a selection headache as to whether Ascroft will be best deployed in the heart of defence or bolster the midfield.
The fixture will also see Mariners Club Legend Alex Wilkinson face off against his former Club after joining Melbourne City in the January transfer window.
“Harry Ascroft definitely comes back, he will replace Jake McGing in a straight swap who has a slight tear in his glute two days ago so he won’t make the trip,” Walmsley said.
“Luis trained well today, we’re going to look after him and we want him fresh for the Jets game at home next week so I would say at this stage it is likely that Luis will come on off the bench and give us that impact he’s given us in previous games.
“We could possibly go to two up front, Josh Bingham will definitely start. He’s doing great and is the kind of centre forward who will give Wilkinson and Kisnorbo a headache.
“The other option is young Trent Buhagiar who gives us another player with explosive pace and we’re tempted to throw Austin, Buhagiar and Fab into a three pronged pacey forward line so we can put balls in behind them.
“He’s [Buhagair] definitely up for it, but you’ll never know if they’re ready until they’re thrown into the cauldron but underneath that quiet, shy exterior is a hungry player and a good athlete.
“I’m happy that Wilko is back in Australia playing, unfortunately it’s with another A-League team but he’s a fantastic guy and what he did for the Central Coast was amazing and people here still love him so we are happy that he went away and achieved what he has but come Sunday it will be nice to battle against him,” Rose said.
“He’s wearing a different badge on the front of his shirt so as soon as that whistle blows it will be us against him and hopefully we can get one over him.
“The Mooy, Fornaroli combination has been deadly so it’s a good challenge for us. Obviously our defence has been talked about all season but it’s a challenge we’re going to take head on,” Rose said
“The past month has been amazing, training hard and on the paddock every day working hard at what you love,” Buhagiar said.
“I had high expectations coming in, but it’s exceeded my expectations.
“When I saw it [Luis Garcia signing] I didn’t believe it, he’s a legend and it’s great to have him at this Club. Even watching him you can learn, his touch, his movement, and his through balls.
“I would love to start, it would be great for me and help improve my game,” Buhagiar said.
Melbourne City: DWLLD
Central Coast Mariners: LLWLL
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 2.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Aaron MOOY, 11.Michael ZULLO, 16.Jason TRIFIRO, 17.Wade DEKKER, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 25.Jacob MELLING, 27.Nick FITZGERALD, 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI, 33.Osama MALIK, 39.Ali EYIGUN
**two to be omitted**
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 10.Luis GARCIA, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Alastair BRAY (gk), 15.Brad McDONALD, 16.Liam ROSE, 19.Josh BINGHAM, 21.Michael NEILL, 23.Tomislav USKOK, 25.Adam BERRY, 28.Matthew FLETCHER
**two to be omitted**
- City have won their last two matches against Central Coast, scoring eight goals in the process.
- City are undefeated in their last six home fixtures.
- The Mariners have conceded 23 of their 45 goals in the final half hour of matches this season, eight more than any other team.
Sunday February 21
Match: Melbourne City vs. Central Coast Mariners
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
Referee: Stephen Lucas
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505
Radio Broadcast: 96.3 Coast FM
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #MCYvCCM & #CCMFC