Neville, Chapman, Jaliens, Gallaway
Brillante, Zadkovich, KantarovskiBurns, Taggart/Heskey, Hoole
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Roux, Sainsbury, Anderson/Seip, RoseMontogomery, Hutchinson, Fitzgerald,
Flores, Duke, McGlinchey
Played: 29, Wins: Newcastle 9, Central Coast 10, Draws: 10
Central Coast 0-0 Newcastle, December 8, 2012
Past five matches:
The F3 derby is not the game the Jets will have wanted to face in such a slump, with their goal drought now lasting 406 minutes (including last season). Coach Gary van Egmond will be hoping star striker Emile Heskey is fit to take his place in the line up, having battled a knee injury sustained in pre-season. The towering Englishman will be hoping he can break the Jets' duck this season, as they have gone goalless in their three matches so far. Despite their story of woe up front, the picture is not so disastrous looking at the table as they have two points - and are just two points outside the finals positions. But it will be a long season if their goal drought continues to haunt them early in the campaign.
The Mariners re-gained their mojo with a confident 1-0 win over Adelaide United last start, holding on to a lead gained early via a Nick Fitzgerald goal. The back-four of Zach Anderson, Josh Rose, Trent Sainsbury and Storm Roux that almost held out Western Sydney on the opening matchday went one better as a defensive unit to keep the club's first clean sheet of the season - alongside first-choice keeper Justin Pasfield. They have a very big chance to make it consecutive shutouts too, what with the Jets' issues in front of goal.
The big issue:
Newcastle - goals. It will come as no surprise that Newcastle need to score, and may throw in Heskey before he is fully fit in a desperate attempt to find the back of the net. They came tantalisingly close in Napier, but their confidence is sorely lacking.
Central Coast - Consistency. The Mariners have been renowned for their brilliant runs of results in recent years, however they have began the season with a couple of draws and a narrow win. Now is the time for Graham Arnold's side to stamp down their authority as a serious title contender by embarking on a winning sequence.
The game breaker:
Mitchell Duke - he has only played 31 F3 derby minutes, but will be looking to further enhance is reputation as the next big thing in the A-League by adding to his one goal so far this season. Is the focal point of most Mariners' attacks, and should have chances to bury the Jets.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-2 Central Coast
The Mariners are a class above, and if they are anywhere near their best, they will win. The Jets are simply down on confidence, and in front of a Hunter Stadium crowd with high expectations, it might be too much for Van Egmond's developing side to handle. Central Coast are much more seasoned, and should get the three points here.