MX23RW : Wednesday, May 13 12:38:17| >> :600:4747769:4747769:
Mar 20, 2020 at 6.30am UK at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Central CoastCentral Coast Mariners
Melbourne CityMelbourne City
Murray (2', 69')
FT(HT: 1-2)
MacLaren (5', 48', 74'), Susaeta (10')

Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Australian A-League clash between rock-bottom Central Coast Mariners and high-flying Melbourne City, including predictions and possible lineups.

Central Coast Mariners will look to bring a dreadful run of form to an end on Friday when they host high-flying Melbourne City at the Central Coast Stadium.

The A-League has vowed to play on behind closed doors amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, with just five rounds of fixtures to go before the end of the season.

Match preview

There is seemingly little left for the Mariners to salvage from another poor season which looks likely to end with them propping up the rest of the league for the third campaign in a row and fourth time in five years.

It is a far cry from the spell which saw them finish in the top three in six of their first nine years in the division, but it is now nothing new to see them struggling at the wrong end of the table.

Alen Stajcic's side go into Friday's contest on a horrendous run of form which has seen them lose each of their last nine games, stretching back to a January 12 triumph over Melbourne Victory.

This contest against another Melbourne team is likely to be a much stiffer test than that, though, and should Central Coast lose again then they would be just one short of the all-time A-League record for most consecutive defeats.

A home tie with fellow strugglers Newcastle Jets next weekend perhaps provides a more realistic chance of snapping that streak than this game against a Melbourne City side sitting second in the table.

Erick Mombaerts's side are on course for their highest-ever league finish, although to do that they must hold off the challenge of third-placed Wellington Phoenix, who are a point behind with a game in hand but have been forced to relocate to Australia after it was deemed that travelling to and from their native New Zealand was too dangerous due to the spread of coronavirus.

The regular season title appears to be out of reach for City again, with Sydney sitting 10 points clear and with two games in hand, but the carrot of their best-ever league finish and an automatic spot in the Finals Series will be enough to keep them motivated until the end of the season.

By contrast, Central Coast's main motivation may now be to improve on last season's tally of just 13 points; they need only one more point to do so but, considering they were also in that position more than two months ago, they cannot take that for granted.

If there is cause for optimism amongst the hosts then it is that 10 of their 13 points this season have come in front of their own fans, whereas City have only won one of and taken four points from their last five A-League games on the road.

Central Coast Mariners A-League form: LLLLLL

Melbourne City form: LWLWWD
Melbourne City form (all competitions): WLWLWD

Team News

Former Cardiff City midfielder Craig Noone is among the players who could feature for the visitors in this match, in addition to ex-Athletic Bilbao stalwart Markel Susaeta and former Fiorentina midfielder Joshua Brillante.

Free-scoring centre-forward Jamie MacLaren is expected to lead the line for City again as he looks to add to his tally of 16 goals in just 20 appearances this season.

That is four times as many goals as the top scorer for Mariners, with Matt Simon and Milan Djuric leading the way for the hosts on four goals apiece.

Central Coast Mariners possible starting lineup:
Birighitti; Miller, Gordon, Tongyik, Clisby; Kim, Stensness; Harold, Djuric, De Silva; Murray

Melbourne City possible starting lineup:
Glover; Atkinson, Delbridge, Good, Jamieson; Susaeta, Brillante, Berenguer; Wales, MacLaren, Noone

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We say: Central Coast Mariners 0-3 Melbourne City

It is almost impossible to back a Central Coast Mariners win, or even a draw, at the moment given their miserable form. Melbourne City have been shaky on the road of late, but they won their last away game and will expect to come away with a comfortable three points here.


Who will win Friday's Australian A-League clash between Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City?

Central Coast Mariners
Melbourne City
Central Coast Mariners
Melbourne City
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Josh Brillante in action during an Australian Socceroos training session at Central Coast Stadium on May 21, 2014
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