Wilkinson skips his way to three figures

Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson will become just the fourth player in history to reach 100 Hyundai A-League appearances, when he leads his side out against Perth Glory at Bluetongue stadium this Friday night.

Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson will become just the fourth player in history to reach 100 Hyundai A-League appearances, when he leads his side out against Perth Glory at Bluetongue stadium this Friday night.

The first do achieve the feat in Yellow and Navy, Wilkinson admits he knew little about his impending honour.

"I didn-t even realise it was coming up," Wilkinson said.

"One of the commentators mentioned it and then my old man told me the other day so obviously I-m very happy to have played 100 games for the club, and hopefully there are a few more to come."

Wilkinson was one of only two players - the other being inaugural captain Noel Spencer - to be ever present throughout the season one campaign which culminated in a Grand Final appearance, and in fact, it wasn-t until round two of season three, that a Central Coast Mariners team-sheet didn-t include Wilkinson-s name.

"I-ve been pretty lucky - touch wood - with injury so far, I-ve only missed nine matches with a bit of a knee injury but apart from that I-ve been lucky. Hopefully that continues and I can stay injury free for a long time.

"I-ve had a great time here at the Mariners over the first five years, and I-m lucky enough to be captain now. I regard that as a huge honour, and, as I said, hopefully there are a lot more games for the Mariners still to come," Wilkinson said.

It was in round 12 of the Hyundai A-League 2006/07 season in which Wilkinson had his first taste of wearing the captain-s armband from the opening whistle, and, the then 22-year-old admits he was a little taken aback by the appointment.

"I was pretty surprised. Noel Spencer was the captain at the time, he was injured for a few games and Lawrie asked if I wanted to step in for a while.

"It was a big shock because I was pretty young but the club showed a lot of faith in me, and hopefully I-ve repaid that over the last three years," Wilkinson said.

Celebration aside, the Mariners are only too aware that victory at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday night will set up a gap of up to five points on the chasing pack, and potentially, depending on other results, see the Gosford based outfit move up to second spot.

"Regardless of the occasion it is a huge game for us. After Perth won on the weekend they-re only two points behind us, so if we can get a win over them it puts us right up in the mix, and creates a bit of a gap between us and the rest of the field.

"It-s a huge game, and a win would be fantastic," said Wilkinson.

The Central Coast backed up a 4-nil victory against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium with an equally impressive 5-1 scoreline against North Queensland, marking the first time this campaign Lawrie McKinna-s men have managed consecutive victories.

The last time the club managed three straight was between rounds 11 and 13 of the premiership winning campaign of 2007/08. It-s a feat the club is hell bent on equalling this Friday night.

"I was very important. It took us 15 rounds to get back-to-back wins, and in this league if you can be consistent for a few weeks in a row it really shoots you up the table and I think that is what we have to aim for now, just to be consistent week in, week out, and if we can do that, I-m sure we can be up there fighting for top spot," said Wilkinson.

The Central Coast has a better record against Perth Glory than it does against any other Hyundai A-League opponent - outside of the two newcomers - suffering a solitary defeat in 13 meetings.

The most recent of the yellow and navy-s nine victories over their Western rivals came in round five of the current campaign, when Wilkinson scored the first goal of the night, and indeed his Hyundai a-league career, in a 2-1 win in Canberra.

The Mariners skipper cautious about his chances of finding the back of the net this time around.

"Yeah maybe, but we won-t count on it!" laughed Wilkinson.

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