It was a week of 2's for the Central Coast Mariners after putting two goals past the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night catapulted the Gosford club up to 2nd on the A-League ladder, with only two more fixtures remaining in the A-League season. A midweek victory in the Asian Champions League was the Mariners fourth win in a row across all competitions, and an imposing record against Perth will have many Yellow and Navy fans expecting the Coast to consolidate second spot this weekend.
Across the nullarbor, a stunning late fight from the Glory saw them take all three points against the Jets in Perth. It has proved to be a small positive in a season of learning curves for Perth, whose win last weekend was their first in five matches at NIB Stadium. A mix of locker room controversy, player revolts and questionable marquee signings have been huge speedbumps in a road that just needed to be smooth for the Glory, and will need to turn things around against the reigning champs for fear of winning their first trophy since the A-League begun - the wooden spoon.
The Form Book:
In 27 previous meetings opening the A-League in Round One of Season 2005/06, the Central Coast have proven utterly dominate with a massive 17 wins and five draws, whilst Perth have mustered a measly five wins.
Last Time They Met:
On the last day of 2013, in the traditional New Years Eve clash, the Mariners left it late for the second time this season against the Glory where Michael McGlinchey, in what would be his last match before jetting off to Japan, slammed home a winner in the 96th minute of play as the Central Coast won the clash 2-1 on a perfect night in Gosford.
The Game Breaker:
With untouchable form as the Mariners "super-sub", it's difficult to look past Bernie Ibini as the hardly secret weapon in the Central Coast attacking set-up. After confident finishes in the last two fixtures have settled the game in the Mariners favour, it is clear that Bernie's short stint in China had some effect - as he has returned with more skill on the ball and a clinical range of shooting sometimes missed by the Ibini of old. Phil Moss showed faith in the reformed striker by starting him midweek against Beijing Guoan, however with the form he has had off the bench in recent weeks, there is no fan of the Yellow and Navy who would be dissapointed if he was named amongst the subs.
The Central Coast have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Hyundai A-League matches, and they have a similar record of nine games without a clean sheet in their visits west to WA. However, a stunnig performance by Liam "Rocket" Reddy in the Asian Champions League coupled with a poor string of results for the Glory has this fan feeling a 2-0 win to the visitors is on the cards.
You heard it here first.