The A-League returns for a frantic month of football action to belatedly crown a champion for the 2019-20 season. The second day of the competition’s return pits under-strength Perth Glory against last-placed Central Coast Mariners.
History: Played 42: Central Coast 20 V Perth 16 (6 Draws)
Last meeting: December 31, 2019: Perth 3 d Central Coast 0 at Central Coast Stadium
Final Thoughts: Fifth-placed Perth Glory have won eight and drawn seven of their 20 matches so far. Last year’s Premiers Plate winners started poorly, winning just one of their first seven. But a 10-match unbeaten run steadied the ship.
The Glory were disappointing in the weeks leading up to the A-League’s hiatus, however, suffering back-to-back upset losses to Newcastle and Melbourne City before playing out a scoreless draw with Sydney FC.
But the club has been rocked by skipper Diego Castro’s late decision to opt out of the A-League hub. It’s a further blow to their squad strength after import defenders Gregory Wuthrich and Kim Soo-Beom returned home amid the coronavirus outbreak. Bruno Fornaroli leads Perth’s goalscoring tally with 11.
If there’s a club that wouldn’t have minded calling it a day when the season was suspended in March, it’s Central Coast. The Mariners are headed for a third straight wooden spoon, seven point adrift of the field.
The Mariners went into the hiatus on a 10-match losing streak. They conceded three-plus goals seven times during that run, highlighted by a humiliating 6-2 defeat to newcomers Western United. Jordan Murray – who notched a brace in Central Coast’s last outing, a 4-2 loss to Melbourne City – is the team’s top goal-scorer alongside Milan Duric with four.
Honours shared so far this season
The Glory have won five of their last six against the Mariners. The Mariners pulled off an early-season 2-1 upset in Perth thanks to goals from Daniel De Silva and Samuel Silvera. But after some early resistance the Glory atoned with a 3-0 drubbing in Gosford on New Year’s Eve, with Diego Castro, Joel Chianese and Bruno Fornaroli getting on the scoresheet.
The hub scenario favours the Mariners, who may to play all of their remaining games at home. Three of their four season wins came at Central Coast Stadium. The Glory have won four and drawn five of 11 matches on the road.
Perth are clearly the superior team but it’s been a bumpy ride back to the playing arena. Rank $7.50 outsiders, Central Coast offer up some value with the start.