Central Coast will be riding a wave of confidence when Adelaide United visit Gosford on Thursday night.
It was a long time between drinks for the Mariners, who won their first game of the season in great fashion by outplaying reigning champions Sydney for 90 minutes. Adelaide had all the play early on in their clash with Newcastle, but goals either side of half-time to the visitors saw Marco Kurz’s side fall to a third consecutive loss.
Central Coast will be looking to build on last Friday’s momentum and use it to propel themselves up the table. Conversely, with four key names still on the sidelines, Kurz’s men will be desperate to pick up some much-needed points to ensure they are still in a position to challenge when players eventually return from injury.
Key Battle – Wout Brama vs Isaias
The Dutch midfielder was great in front of Paul Okon’s back four last week, significantly reducing Milos Ninkovic’s impact on the game. On the other hand, the United captain was not quite his usual self against the Jets, but we have seen time and time again that Isaias can be relied on to support his defenders. while also getting up the pitch when required to be creative.
Over the past 10 meetings between these clubs, there has been an average of almost four goals a game. While the names on the pitch do not indicate the midfielders will need a strong defensive mindset, history suggests it will be the case. Mariners striker Asdrubal is under an injury cloud with an ankle problem that limited him to just 45 minutes last week, while question marks still remain over the fitness of Baba Diawara. This will make life a little easier for the defensive-midfielders, but both will still have to be strong in the support of their respective backlines.
It is hard to see Okon making many changes to his starting XI after such a good win over Sydney. Captain Alan Baro will miss with suspension after picking up two yellows in the match, which sees Kye Rowles and Harry Ascroft added to the squad.
Central Coast Expected XI (4-3-3): Kennedy (GK); McGing, Ascroft, Golec, Rose; Hiariej, Brama, Hoole; De Silva, Pain; Absudral
Surprisingly, Ersan Gulum returns to the Reds matchday squad after being listed in the previous round as still being a number of weeks away from returning after puncturing his lung..
Adelaide United Expected XI (4-3-3): Izzo (GK); Marrone, Elsey, Gulum Garrucio; Konstandopoulos, Isaias, Adlung; Mileusnic, Kitto; Diawara
Of the 38 past outings, Central Coast have the slight edge after coming away with all three points on 18 occasions, compared to 14 for United, although Adelaide have won five of the last seven meetings. Expect goals, as there has only been one scoreless draw ever between the two teams.
It was an entertaining affair late last season when United made the trip to Gosford. The Mariners had more of the ball, but a brace from Baba was enough to ensure his team returned to South Australia with all three points.
Central Coast will be full of confidence and momentum following their first win, but Kurz will be hopeful it is matched by his team’s desperation after going over a month without a victory. If the Mariners can play the way they did last week they will triumph, but it is hard to imagine them playing two great games consecutively.
Central Coast Mariners 2 Adelaide United 2