As Melbourne City FC continue preparations for a difficult away trip to Gosford, we take an in-depth look at the Central Coast Mariners in this week’s Scout Report.
Youthful Mariners go all-out-attack
Despite sitting in eighth position on the Hyundai A-League table, the Central Coast Mariners’ attacking revolution under Head Coach Tony Walmsley has certainly ticked the boxes when it comes to entertainment.
Employing an all-out-attack approach focused on high-pressing and total-man marking of the opposition, the Mariners will look to stifle City’s rhythm when playing out from the back, utilizing creative outlets Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald in transition.
A main focus on wide combinations and crossing to large numbers in the penalty area has been affected by the loss of Fabio Ferreira, with the Portuguese winger’s combination with Fitzgerald and Storm Roux down the right flank being the Mariners’ main attacking threat.
Gung-ho style leaves inexperienced defence exposed
While the Mariners may be dazzling the competition with a free-flowing and attractive brand of football, it has also placed a considerable burden on a relatively inexperienced defensive unit.
With a high defensive press forcing both the wingers and strikers to restrict the opposition from playing out from the back, young central defensive pairing Jake McGing and Jacob Poscoliero are left vulnerable, often called upon to step out of position to engage the opposition striker in a one-on-one situation.
This was demonstrated to great affect through the performance of Bruno Fornaroli in the 3-1 win over the Mariners in Round 3. The Uruguayan’s ability to hold up play and drag McGing and Poscoliero out of position allowed City to beat the press and open up space for the overlapping wingers to run into.
Add to that the pace and trickery of Harry Novillo and the ingenuity of Aaron Mooy, a youthful Mariners defence – who are without a clean sheet in their last 10 matches – will have their hands full in restricting the league’s highest scoring team.
Caceres shining in absence of talisman Ferreira
One player who has softened the absence of talisman Ferreira is attacking midfielder Anthony Caceres.
The 23-year-old has quickly become the fulcrum of the Mariners key attacking movements, creating a team high 14 chances and playing over 394 passes – over 100 more than any other team-mate.
Boasting an elite dribbling ability, Caceres has a tendency to drift towards the left hand touchline where he can drive inboard, skipping past opposition defenders and looking to either play a killer pass or shoot for goal.
With Caceres inheriting the role as the Mariners' chief playmaker, curbing his influence in the final third will contribute greatly to City returning to Melbourne with all three points.
City look to end Gosford curse
Despite running out comfortable 3-1 winners at AAMI Park earlier this season, Thursday night’s match will be an entirely different proposition for John van’t Schip’s side, if the history books are to go by.
The Club has never managed to record an away win against Central Coast, taking only one point from seven matches played in Gosford.
Buoyed by the return of captain Patrick Kisnorbo from injury, City will have to break a long standing Mariners hoodoo to record consecutive Hyundai A-League wins for the first time this season.
Last time we met
Melbourne City FC 3-1 Central Coast Mariners, Round 3 – Hyundai A-League 2015/16
Returning from a difficult trip to Perth for the Westfield FFA Cup Semi-Final, John van’t Schip’s side recorded its first win of the season with a dominant performance against the Mariners.
City took an early lead when captain Patrick Kisnorbo headed home a swinging free-kick from Aaron Mooy in the 11th minute, only for Nick Fitzgerald to level the game with a stunning 25-yard strike only two minutes later.
But the evening belonged to Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli, who capped off a superb individual display with a second-half brace to earn City all three points.
- Central Coast have won 10 of their past 16 encounters with Melbourne City FC (D4 L2).
- Melbourne City FC won its most recent clash against with the Mariners (3-1) and are on the hunt for consecutive wins against the Mariners for the first time.
- Only twice in all previous iterations of this fixture has either team scored more than two goals.
- Central Coast have conceded the first goal in all of their matches this season, excluding their lone win on the opening weekend.
- Central Coast have conceded more fouls than any other A-League team this campaign (143)
- City have fired in 90 shots on goal this season (excluding blocked shots), five more than any other side and six more than the Mariners (84).
- The Mariners’ goal conversion rate is joint bottom of the league at 11%.
- Bruno Fornaroli has scored six times in his opening eight Hyundai A-League games for Melbourne City FC. He scored a double against the Mariners at AAMI Park on Matchday 3.