Don’t laugh but the Mariners are in peak form and are a big chance of toppling the Victory on Sunday afternoon.
Paul Okon’s outfit have notched three straight wins heading into this one – the first time in three years that the Mariners have been able to achieve that feat!
Their latest victims were the Western Sydney Wanderers and their run of good form now sees them in a four-way fight for sixth spot on the table.
Melbourne Victory’s inconsistent form over the past month continued last week with the rescheduled game between the Jets yielding a 0-0 result on Monday evening.
Okon has done a sensational job with the Mariners this season considering he was only thrust into the job a few weeks out from the start of the season.
Their three straight wins has meant they have an eight-point gap over Adelaide in last spot which means they are almost guaranteed of not getting the wooden spoon. Even more important it has put them just two points behind the sixth placed Jets heading into Round 20.
Winning by aggregate score of 6-1 during this three-game streak, they’ve managed to keep two cleansheets which highlights just how far last season’s worst defensive outfit has come.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD
Melbourne have for most part been seen as the only serious challenger to Sydney FC this season.
They currently enjoy a seven-point gap over Brisbane going into Round 20 and sit a comfortable second on the table, almost ensuring them a top two spot come finals time. Is it that comfort that has caused their run of inconsistent form?
Being too far behind to realistically beat Sydney to the Premier’s Plate and enjoying a big enough lead over the chasing pack to hold second, it wouldn’t be a surprise if complacency set in.
After three straight losses the Victory finally got back into the winners circle with a controversial win over City in the Derby before failing to score in a draw against Newcastle on Monday.
The reading doesn’t bode well for Central Coast fans when looking at the results between the sides.
Central Coast are winless against the Victory in their past 10 meetings and have only taken a share of the points once in the past six games.
They have met just once this season with the Victory recording a resounding 4-1 win at AAMI Park on December 28.
Surely the Mariners couldn’t pull off four straight wins could they?
With their confidence on a high and the Victory not exactly firing on all cylinders, it would be the biggest upset of the season by any stretch of the imagination.
If you are looking for a bit of value at the end of the weekend then definitely consider the Mariners a good chance to at least share the points with Melbourne.
Central Coast’s Roy O’Donovan has been in superb touch of late and has 10 goals for the season but the problem is that his team relies on him too much. If he is kept quiet then there is very little alternatives to find a way to goal.
The Victory, on the other hand, boast 24 goals between their two leading scorers in Besart Berisha and Marco Rojas, with the latter playing in career best form.
It isn’t often that Victory don’t score so you would suggest they would be good for at least one goal here against the Mariners who have conceded an average of 1.84 throughout 2016/17. The question will be whether O’Donovan and his teammates can trouble Lawrence Thomas at the other end.
THE TIP: DRAW – there’s only been one in the past six encounters between the sides but we think it’s due to land again
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5: OVER 2.5
1st GOALSCORER: BESART BERISHA