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Preview: Melbourne City vs. Central Coast Mariners - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Australian A-League clash between Melbourne City and Central Coast Mariners, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Fresh off the back of ending their six game unbeaten run, Central Coast Mariners travel to AAMI Park on Saturday to take on league leaders Melbourne City.

The hosts will aim to quickly return to winning ways after they were held to a 2-2 draw against Wellington Phoenix in their last outing.


Match preview

Alen Stajcic, now in charge of Central Coast Mariners, pictured in 2019© Reuters

Melbourne City's title celebrations were delayed for another week after they were forced to an entertaining 2-2 draw by a resilient Wellington Phoenix side.

In an end-to-end affair, Naoki Tsubaki cancelled out Tomer Hemed's opener in the 58th minute before Jamie Maclaren came off the bench to turn the game on its head with a brilliant strike, but Hemed completed his brace with two minutes on the clock to force a share of the spoils.

Prior to that, Patrick Kisnorbo's men had picked up four straight victories and five in their last six games, including a 7-0 annihilation of local rivals Melbourne Victory in the derby.

They have now avoided defeat in their most recent nine outings and this fine run has been down to their dominance on home turf, where they boast the league's best record with nine wins and one draw in 11 games.

With 45 points from 22 games, Melbourne City sit at the summit of the A-League table and could clinch their first Australian top-flight title with a win on Saturday.

Central Coast Mariners, on the other hand, ended their six-game winless run with a hard-earned 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets last time out.

Veteran striker Matt Simon grabbed his 10th goal of the campaign when he calmly converted from the penalty spot in the 54th minute to hand the Mariners their 10th win of the season.

After falling off the pace in recent weeks, the win will serve as a huge confidence boost for Alen Stajcic's men, who are now in the driving seat to finish in the playoff places.

While they have a game in hand, Central Coast Mariners currently sit third in the league table, two points behind second-placed Sydney FC and with a five-point cushion in the top-six places.

Melbourne City Australian A-League form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Central Coast Mariners Australian A-League form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • W


Team News

Twenty-one-year-old defender Nathaniel Atkinson remains ruled out with a hamstring injury he sustained versus Wellington Phoenix on April 5.

Andrew Nabbout will also be unable to take part in Saturday's encounter having picked up an adductor problem in last week's clash with Adelaide United.

Jamie Maclaren was given a breather as he started off the bench last time out, but we expect the free-scoring striker to return to the starting lineup on Saturday.

The 27-year-old has been instrumental in Melbourne City's title charge, leading the league's scoring chart with 25 goals in 22 games.

Following an injury-free clash with Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Mariners will head into this tie with a clean bill of health barring any late fitness issues.

Marco Urena returned to the fold last week after serving his suspension for receiving a straight red in the game against Brisbane Roar on April 24 and we expect the Costa Rican striker to retain his spot in the side.

Melbourne City possible starting lineup:
Glover; Galloway, Reis, Good, Jamieson; Metcalfe, O'Neill, Berenguer; Tilio, Noone, Maclaren

Central Coast Mariners possible starting lineup:
Birighitti; Nigro, Tongyik, Rowles, Clisby; Nisbet, Bozanic, Stensness, De Silva; Kuol, Simon


SM words green background

We say: Melbourne City 2-0 Central Coast Mariners

​Melbourne City and Central Coast Mariners have been two of the best sides in the division this season and we can expect an entertaining contest between both sides.

The visitors have struggled for results in recent games, while the hosts head into Saturday's clash in stronger form following a series of impressive outings.

We predict Melbourne City will maintain their fine form and win the tie to confirm their first-ever league title.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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How you voted: Melbourne City vs Central Coast

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Draw
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Central Coast Mariners
10.0%
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Melbourne Victory players celebrate in December 2020
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