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Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs Adelaide United

CCMvADE2013/14 A-League Elimination Final
Central Coast Mariners vs Adelaide United
Saturday 19th April. 4:30pm AEST
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford.
Referee: Ben Williams.
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports 3/3HD; Delayed coverage on SBS2/HD.

In the final round of the season, Adelaide United were seen as clear favourites to beat Newcastle Jets and push for second place, whilst Central Coast Mariners were always second choice against Premier Plate winners Brisbane Roar. But, in keeping accordance with the odd football season that was the 2013/14 A-League season, Adelaide lost their final match, and Central Coast defied the odds to beat Brisbane – setting up a meeting of the two sides in Gosford in the first week of the finals.

How they got there - Central Coast Mariners

The Mariners were against all odds in their final push for second place. Up against Brisbane Roar, they had to produce something special in a match that potentially saw them drop down to sixth place if they lost. But the Mariners were able to put on a strong performance against the League winners, and won the match 2-0 with goals to Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres. They ended the season in third place.

How they got there – Adelaide United

Adelaide went into Round 27 with a run of great form and a desire to continue their late surge to the top. Lowly Newcastle Jets stood in their way of a push for second place, and victory was almost assured. However, the Reds couldn’t continue their run of good form, and lost 2-0 to the Jets in an uninspiring performance. They looked dangerously similar to the team that struggled to find results at the beginning of the season, which, for one of the league’s best football teams, is not a good sign heading into the A-League finals. Despite losing their final match, their strong form mid season, with 3 losses in 17 matches, is primarily how they arrived in sixth position.

The statistical breakdown

This Season: Adelaide 2 wins, Central Coast 1 win, Goal Difference: Adelaide +5.
At Central Coast Stadium: Adelaide 3 wins, 1 draw, Central Coast 9 wins.
Last Match: Adelaide United 2-0 Central Coast Mariners (14/02/14 at Coopers Stadium, Adelaide).
With Ben Williams as referee: Central Coast 8 wins, 7 draws, 13 losses; Adelaide 9 wins, 9 draws, 9 losses.
In finals matches:
Central Coast 1 win (Preliminary final 2005/06 at Hindmarsh Stadium).

Facts and Figures

  • This is Adelaide’s 6th finals campaign, and Central Coast’s 7th – the most of any A-League club.
  • Despite scoring the most goals of any team this season, and having a +9 goal difference, Adelaide finished in 6th place. Conversely, the Mariners scored the second-least amount of goals, had a negative goal difference, and finished in 3rd.
  • Adelaide United had four goal scorers this season (Jeronimo (9), Ferreira (9), Cirio (8) and Carrusca (6)) with more goals than the Central Coast’s best scorer (Ibini (5)).
  • Central Coast come into the match having won 5 of their last 7 matches, and all of their last 3 at Central Coast Stadium. Adelaide, however, have managed just 1 win from their last 3 matches.
  • The Mariners have not lost to Adelaide in their last 7 meetings in Gosford (6 wins, 1 draw). Adelaide’s last victory at Central Coast Stadium was in round 21 of the 2008/09 season.
  • Two Adelaide players have previously scored an A-League finals goal, namely Bruce Djite and Tarek Elrich (one each). The only current Mariners player to have scored a finals goal is Adam Kwasnik, who will miss the remainder of the season through injury.

Injury and Suspension List

Adelaide United: Jake Barker-Daish (foot), Cassio (hamstring), Michael Marrone (leg), Tarek Elrich (suspended).
Central Coast Mariners: Marcos Flores (knee), Adam Kwasnik (knee), Marcel Seip (knee).

Where Central Coast have the advantage

  • ACL Experience: The Asian Champions League is a stern test for the A-League’s best, and Central Coast have had the honours of representing Australia this season. But the Mariners were quickly discarded as a chance for progressing when their season went downhill midway through. Phil Moss seemed to be struggling, and it was the unlikely Asian Champions League that sparked the Mariners back to life. They now sit third overall and in a decent position to advance, with 6 points from five games played. This experience has strengthened a lacklustre Mariners outfit this season.
  • Young blood: Anthony Caceres, Zac Anderson, Bernie Ibini and Storm Roux are all youngsters who have excelled for the Mariners this season. Anderson and Roux have both stepped up with good performances in defence, and Caceres and Ibini have both scored some vital goals this season for Central Coast. The young players will be vital in closing down and countering an impressive Adelaide squad.
  • Finals Success: Last year’s Grand Final victory against the Wanderers will still be fresh in the mind of Phil Moss and the remaining Mariners squad. They will all be eager to follow it up with another strong finals display, and a win against Adelaide could give them the confidence to advance to a second consecutive A-League Grand Final.

Where Adelaide United have the advantage

  • Width: The Reds have strength in every position on the park, and most importantly depth and flair on the bench. Awer Mabil is a youngster who can beat any opponent at this level, though his immaturity as a footballer keeps him from starting the match. The flanks is where Adelaide have the edge, with Fabio Ferreira, Jeronimo Neumann, Sergio Cirio, Michael Zullo, Tarek Elrich and Awer Mabil all very dangerous players out wide.
  • Carrusca: Enough said. His class is undeniable, and his distribution of the ball and awareness on the field makes him arguably the best midfielder in the league.
  • The ‘Barcelona’ Edge: When your coach has the pedigree that Josep Gombau has, then you are going to be a dangerous football team. After a slow start to the season, Adelaide have proven that they can play some entertaining and attacking football. With the A-League’s best coach at the helm – as voted by A-League supporters – Adelaide will be hard to stop.

Verdict

Possession will no doubt favour the visitors, but Central Coast won their previous match against Brisbane on the counter, and will be probably be looking to win in a similar manner. However, Adelaide will field a first XI who, if playing well, should be superior to their opposite number. Such is the depth and strength of Adelaide this season, I can see Adelaide outclassing the Mariners on Saturday. 2-0 to Adelaide United.

About the author

avatarJames is a devout Melbourne Victory fan and a UQ Journalism student, writing for Ultimate A-League.

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