Just two rounds remain in the A-League regular season with still plenty to play for. Friday night’s games both have a familiar plot to them with teams on the pointy end of the table playing sides desperately trying to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. A-League expert Brad Hutchings previews the rounds opening fixtures.
FRIDAY APRIL 17
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
Wellington‘s Premiers Plate hopes looked dead and buried but the prospect of facing a Central Coast side playing for nothing will bound to give them confidence as they search for second spot.
Victory’s mid-week win over Brisbane has seemingly given them top spot on the ladder, a position that destined to belong to the Phoenix just three weeks ago. Since that abandoned game against Brisbane in Round 23, the Nix have only managed a draw against City while copping six goals in the process without finding the target themselves.
It’s been a dire season for Central Coast but head into this much off the back of a win against Western Sydney and the appointment of interim coach Tony Walmsley to the role permanently.
The previously free-scoring Phoenix haven’t hit the back of the net in three games, the first time since 2008 they have done so. Coming up a Mariners defence who have shipped in the second most amount of goals for the year don’t expect that tally to rise to four.
There is just too much riding on the Phoenix to drop points in this one. Taking on Mariners just two weeks shy of the final is the perfect tonic for the Nix to break their funk. Even more damming for the mariners is the fact they are yet to win a game away from home all season. That won’t change this weekend against Wellington.
Over 3.5 goal at 2.72
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Just like the previous game, this encounter sees a side propping up the league taking on one of the challengers for the title.
Newcastle are still flying high form their shock 1-0 away win to premiers-elect Melbourne Victory last weekend and are in a decent run of form. Previous to the Victory win the Jets suffered consecutive losses at home to Adelaide and Perth but played better on both instances than the score line suggested.
Sydney are still in the hunt for the Premiers Plate but after falling to Adelaide at home last weekend looked to have surrendered to Victory. That being said the all-important second spot is theirs to lose and will need a win against the Jets to secure it.
The stats don’t make for pretty reading if you’re a Jets fans, pointing squarely to a FC win. Sydney have won their past 6 games on the road and has only lost once in their past 11 games at Hunter Stadium.
Scoring goals has been a problem for the Jets all year only finding the net a league-low 19 times, which is just three more than Sydney’s leading marksmen Marc Janko on 16. Newcastle hasn’t scored in 541 minutes of A-League action against Sydney FC, and that number will surely rise on Friday night, probably by another 90.
Both teams to score NO @ 2.22