High-flying Melbourne City travel to bottom club Central Coast Mariners in the Australian A-League on Friday.
City have lost just one of their last five A-League outings, lifting them to second in the table — although they remain 10 points behind Sydney FC in the Premier’s Plate race. However, they’ll have to negotiate this fixture without manager Erick Mombaerts, who has decided to isolate himself in a bid to avoid contracting coronavirus. The Frenchman is 64 years old and, therefore, falls into the “at-risk” category.
Mariners, meanwhile, are enduring a miserable run of nine consecutive defeats, leaving them stranded at the bottom of the table, seven points adrift of 10th-placed Melbourne Victory.
Can City keep up the good form or will Alen Stajcic’s men turn the tide? Read on for our preview, predictions, team news and live stream information.
When is Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne City and where can I watch live?
Venue: Central Coast Stadium
Date: Friday, 20 March 2020
Kick-off: 06:30 AM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): BT Sport 1
Online and live stream info: BT Sport customers in the UK can watch Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne City live via the BT Sport app, while Australian audiences can stream live via Kayo, who are offering a free trial.
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Last five meetings: Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne City
08 November 2019: Melbourne City 3-1 Central Coast Mariners (A-League)
26 April 2019: Melbourne City 5-0 Central Coast Mariners (A-League)
16 January 2019: Central Coast Mariners 2-1 Melbourne City (A-League)
27 October 2018: Central Coast Mariners 1-1 Melbourne City (A-League)
7 April 2018: Melbourne City 1-0 Central Coast Mariners (A-League)
Aggregate Score: Central Coast Mariners (LLWDL) 4-11 Melbourne City (WWLDW)
Ones to watch
Central Coast Mariners: Mark Birighitti
It says a lot about just how terrible the Mariners have been this season that we’re picking out a goalkeeper as their ‘one to watch’ — the bottom side have conceded a division-high 47 goals in just 21 games this season.
Melbourne City are stacked with attacking talent and considering Mark Birighitti has been busy at the best of times this season, expect him to be well tested again on Friday.
Key stat: Birighitti has made more saves (83) than any other A-League goalkeeper this season.
Melbourne City: Jamie Maclaren
Markel Susaeta and Craig Noone will be more familiar names to casual A-League followers, but it’s former Blackburn Rovers academy man Jamie Maclaren who is doing the business for City.
The Australia international has been one of the most potent strikers in the country this season, ranking fourth in the A-League for shots (48) and spearheading City’ attack.
The Mariners are horrendously out of form and if Maclaren is on song, it could be a very long day indeed.
Key stat: Only Adam Le Fondre (16) has scored more A-League goals than Maclaren (15) this season.
Central Coast Mariners
Gianni Stensness is just one yellow card away from suspension but starts here. Midfielder Daniel De Silva is injured.
Confirmed XI: Birighitti; Gordon, Kim, Tongyik; Miller, Nisbet, Stensness, Clisby; Harold, Murray, Oar.
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Right-back Nathaniel Atkinson has four yellow cards and will be suspended if he picks up another.
Celtic loanee Jack Hendry is out with a knee problem, while Richard Windbichler is also sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Confirmed XI: Glover; Atkinson, Griffiths, Good, Jamieson; Luna, Brillante, Berenguer; Susaeta, Maclaren, Noone.
Central Coast Mariners have all but given up this season and appear to be purely going through the motions. Stajcic’s only hope of motivating his players is in trying to avoid a 10th consecutive defeat — a club record which they set just last season.
However, Melbourne City have a ton of attacking talent and in Maclaren, one of the most fearsome strikers in the A-League. Given their good recent form and the Mariners’ struggles, we can only see this playing out one way.