Central Coast Mariners look the value call in their Thursday night clash with Wellington.
The Mariners slumped to yet another defeat on Boxing Day, this time a 4-1 loss at Sydney, meaning they’ve now lost six on the bounce and are seven points adrift of Perth at the foot of the table. Wellington, meanwhile, also lost by three goals at Adelaide whilst having a player sent off, as the Mariners did, and have now won just one of their last six to drop down to 6th.
The Mariners were down to 10 men and trailing 3-0 after just half an hour at Sydney but they did once again manage to salvage a consolation goal, meaning they’ve now scored in 10 of their 12 games this season. The problem has been at the back as they’ve conceded 28 times already and at least twice in five of their last six. Their only win came at home against Perth in the opening game of the season, but since then they’ve lost four of five at home, but interestingly all these defeats came against the current top-four, with the other being a draw against the Phoenix themselves. Last season the Mariners’ home record against sides that finished between 4th and 7th was a much better W3-D1-L3 as they kept a clean sheet in each of these wins and five of these matches had fewer than three goals.
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Defensive midfielder Albert Riera was the man to see red against Adelaide and he’ll be missed by the Phoenix as prior to that he’d played every minute of the season so far and only missed one game last term, a 3-0 defeat at home to Victory. Phoenix’s away record this season is W1-D2-L4, with that win coming over Perth in their opening road game. Five of these seven games saw at least three goals as their only away clean sheet came in a 0-0 draw at Sydney. Last season their record on the road to the bottom-three was W2-D0-L1, though they failed to keep a clean sheet in any of these games and that was also the case this season against Perth and in that 1-1 draw with the Mariners.
As a result of Wellington’s lack of away clean sheets and the Mariners tending to find the net despite their struggles we expect both teams to find the net in this one, as these sides have done in their last six meetings, but there’s not much juice in the price at 1.63. Instead, Wellington look a little short to us given their poor away record and the Mariners will be grateful to be hosting a side outside the top-four for only the third time this season, having not lost their previous two against these teams.