As fans dry their watery eyes after the knowledge that the end of the season has indeed reared its head hits home, and media outlets draw on their high school knowledge to fiercely scribble rough equations assessing each sides mathematical chance - at the heart of A-League HQ, David Gallop and his minions are recreating Monty Burns famed "excellent" as we await the most open and anticipated final round of football the league may have ever seen. On the table, positions two through to seven are still available to the team willing to fight the hardest for it, and as the Mariners travel north chasing that vital week off, Brisbane are eager to spoil the party and carry some momentum into the finals series.
The Mariners stumbled two timezones over last week as they were outlasted by a vibrant Perth Glory outfit. Phil Moss gave no excuses for the performance but fatigue was certainly a factor in the last half hour as the Central Coast juggle both Hyundai A-League and Asian Champions League commitments. They now visit Suncorp Stadium knowing that all three points will go a long way to securing second spot, but Brisbane have been the Coast's bogey side over the years, and will need to provide something special at the seen of the crime from the 2010/11 Grand Final.
On a side note, the Wanderers face Melbourne Heart 2 hours before the Mariners kick off in Brisbane, where a win for Western Sydney would seal second spot for the Red and Black. Moss would surely have instructed his men to avoid seeing the result at all costs, but Mariners fans will be sure to have at least one eye on the fixture.
Brisbane, meanwhile, continued to show that they have no plans of settling back after taking out first place as they fought hard away from home to earn a point against the Wanderers last week. Mike Mulvey's side have been a cut above all season, and they will aim to prove it again in front of their home faithful against a side they have had the metaphorical wood over in recent years.
The Form Book:
In what can be considered no less than utter dominance, Brisbane Roar have won 18 of their 33 meeting with the Central Coast, whilst the Yellow and Navy hold a miserly six wins to their name, and nine draws make up the numbers.
Last Time They Met:
Mile Sterjovski's 36th minute penalty was not enough as a fast finishing Brisbane Roar came from behind for a 2-1 win at home in their Round 17 clash. A goal from the slippery fish Henrique and a late Besart Berisha strike proved the difference for the Roar, who were the better side on the day. The Mariners, to their credit, were a strikers nightmare throughout the match, defending with diligence and determination that just lost out at the final whistle.
The Game Breaker:
Less of a game breaker than a game saver this week, but against a Brisbane side full of attacking threat, it will be the defense that will need to stand up and deliver on Saturday night. Eddy Bosnar has been immense sinse he signed on the dotted line in the January transfer window and his experience at the back, coupled with his rocket launcher of a left boot and height, have provided the Mariners with an outlet both in attack and defense for scoring and saving goals. Bosnar's cool head in the centre of defense will nurture and grow Zac Anderson into a future star, but until then it is Bosnar who's ability to read the play will be vital to a Mariners win.
Travelling to the home of the Premiers is a tough ask any week of the season, however in the last round and with so much on the line for the Coast, it makes this journey that much harder for the Yellow and Navy. Their recent record is not fantastic, but a stat is very much like a woman in a bikini - it shows you a lot but not everything. I think the Mariners can take points home from Brisbane, however I think it will only be one. 1-1 is the tip.
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