Melbourne Victory - Central Coast Mariners Preview
Kevin Muscat's Victory will be desperate to end their winless run before the finals begin, while Paul Okon's visitors want to avoid the wooden spoon

Playing Central Coast Mariners at home could be the ideal tonic to Melbourne Victory's form slump as Kevin Muscat's men look to gain momentum heading into the A-League finals.


Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 32.Cameron MCGILP, 40.Matt ACTON (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Jason GERIA (returns from suspension), 15.Alan BARO (returns from suspension), 19.George HOWARD (promoted), 32.Cameron MCGILP (promoted)

Outs: 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (suspended - 1 match), 35.Josh HOPE (omitted)

Unavailable: Nil

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O'DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 26.Steve WHYTE, 27.Lachlan WALES

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 22.Jake McGING (promoted), 27.Lachlan WALES (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (quad - 1 week), 6.Blake POWELL (knee - 3 weeks), 10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle - indefinite), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL - indefinite)


Without a win in three games, Victory are in the worst form of the A-League top six since the start of March's international window.

The Big V have second spot sewn up, so they'll get a rest next week, but won't want to enter their semi-final on a four game winless run.

Muscat happy with mental resolve

Lucky for Muscat's side, they get a shot at the Mariners on Friday night.

Victory have won their past five home games against Central Coast and haven't lost at home to the Mariners since 2009 - a run of nine matches.

In fact, Central Coast haven't beaten Victory anywhere in 11 games.

Victory started to show some better form in last week's scoreless draw with Western Sydney Wanderers  - the visitors had 58.1 per cent possession in the first half - but had to hold on after the interval following Daniel Georgievski's red card in the 53rd minute.

Georgievski is the only player unavailable this week, with Leigh Broxham likely to deputise at left-back, while Jason Geria and Alan Baro are expected to return to the back four after serving suspensions in Round 26.

The Mariners are unlikely to make too many changes with Jake McGing and Lachlan Wales promoted to an extended squad.

Central Coast won the F3 Derby last week, with Nick Montgomery and Fabio Ferreira scoring in a 2-0 triumph over Newcastle Jets.

Okon: CCM are going somewhere

That win saw Paul Okon's side rise two positions into eighth as the Mariners look to avoid consecutive wooden spoons in the A-League.

To be certain of that, Central Coast (23 points, -20 goal difference) need to win at AAMI Park but even a draw could be enough to keep them ahead of either Adelaide United (22, -21) or the Jets (22, -23).

The Mariners exhibited an impressive ability to travel early in the season - they picked up five points from their first four away matches - but have lost six of their last nine, including a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Victory in December.


Victory have arguably the two best forwards in the competition at their disposal and yet haven't scored in four of their past five games.

No A-League player has been involved in more goals this season than Victory's Marco Rojas (12 goals, 11 assists) and Besart Berisha (18, 4).

The latter remains stuck on 99 goals for his A-League career - just imagine the roar if he reaches his century on Good Friday!

The Stats: A-League Top 6 Breakdown

Central Coast have scored seven goals in their past five matches and Ferreira has been central, both literally and figuratively, to their attacking set-up.

Playing in behind striker Roy O'Donovan - an unusual position for the Portuguese - Ferreira has scored three goals.

The former Chelsea youth player has also pulled the strings - he and captain Montgomery lead the Mariners this season in terms of chances created (29 each).


Connor Pain. Muscat believes the ex-Victory flyer is Central Coast's most dangerous player and the 23-year-old will face his former club with one goal and four assists to his name for the campaign.


Melbourne Victory: LWLLD

Central Coast Mariners: LLLLW

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Melbourne Victory 3-1 Central Coast Mariners



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