It should be one-sided, but the Mariners have lost some of their lustre in recent weeks, while the Phoenix have shown signs of a revival
|By GOAL AUSTRALIA
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Bojic, Sainsbury, Zwaanswijk, RoseMcGlinchey, Montgomery, Hutchinson
Ibini, McBreen, Fitzgerald
Muscat, Durante, Boxall, Hogg
Cernak, Lia, FentonIfill, Huysegems, Brockie
Central Coast may be unbeaten in their past six, but they have not shown the same kind of form that took them to the top of the table with three draws in their last four matches.
After blitzing the Adelaide United with three second-half goals in the space of 20 minutes in Week 18, the Mariners struggled to find their rhythm against the Brisbane Roar last Friday.
While they did open the scoring early on, they needed a Daniel McBreen goal 10 minutes from time to rescue a point after a Besart Berisha brace put Brisbane in front.
Are the Mariners feeling the pressure of the chasing pack closing the gap?
They may have only lost one match since October, but the aura of invincibility has not been present in the past month.
While they have not lost any of the four matches they've played, they have trailed in three of them and needed late goals to rescue a point against Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United.
With Victory flying on the back of three straight wins, the Mariners' lead at the top is down to just three points and could be even shorter by the end of the weekend.
Pedj Bojic and Nick Montgomery are back from suspension, while Nick Fitzgerald could also push for selection after missing the match against former club Brisbane because of a 'gentleman's agreement'.
Oliver Bozanic will miss for the Mariners, having injured his shoulder against the Roar.
The Phoenix, meanwhile, notched their first win in their past six matches against Perth last Saturday to get off the bottom of the table.
Wellington have now picked up four points since conceding seven goals to Sydney on that horror night at Alianz Stadium in Week 17.
Despite the improved performances, the Phoenix are still at the wrong end of the table and need to pick up some points against the better teams in the competition.
To do so, the Phoenix need to rediscover their goal-scoring touch.
Wellington have netted just four goals in their past six matches and have only scored more than goal in the one of their past 12 matches.
That is despite possessing two of their better attackers in the league in Jeremy Brockie and Paul Ifill.
Keeping goals out may also be a struggle, with a new-look back four expected to take the park due to injury [Leo Bertos], illness [Tony Lochhead] and suspension [Ben Sigmund].
Manny Muscat, Michael Boxall and Ian Hogg are expected to take their respective places.
New Zealand international Brockie has netted 11 goals already this season and Ifill has been a constant threat when fit, but they have lacked support with Belgium recruit Stijn Huysegems scoring just three goals in his 16 appearances.