Second-placed Newcastle are out to snap an A-League losing skid when they play Central Coast.Slumping A-League high-flyers Newcastle are seeking a timely confidence boost against a lowly local rival with multiple motivations.
While the Jets are guaranteed second spot and a home semi-final going into their final-round away game to Central Coast, they have lost three straight.
The ninth-placed Mariners have plenty to play for despite missing out on finals for a fourth straight season.
They could still end up with the wooden spoon if they lose.
Newly appointed head coach Mike Mulvey will attend the game in Gosford and Mariners stalwart Josh Rose will play his final match.
Newcastle have conceded 10 goals across their three defeats, not scoring in those games after netting at least once in their previous 23 fixtures.
“We’re coming of the back of a few poor results the last few weeks and going into a home semi, this will definitely be a game where we need to perform, we need to do well and get our confidence back up,” Jets midfielder Riley McGree said.
“Motivation always has to be high in every game but specifically coming off the back of the performances we’ve been having, I think we definitely need to lift as a team to get the result on the weekend.
“We have to focus on the basics, getting forward, getting to attacking positions and everyone has the licence to do that and everyone has the ability to do that.
“Everyone just needs to get in the box, create chances and defend well.”
Mariners caretaker coach Wayne O’Sullivan believes Mulvey’s presence at Saturday’s game will spark his players.
“Hopefully that will add another little element of spice to it and hopefully generate an extra element of energy should we need it,” O’Sullivan said.
He expected the final appearance of popular 36-year-old defender Rose before his retirement would also lift the Mariners, who have lost five straight.
“That in itself will add another dimension for us as well as being an F3 derby,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’ll start and hopefully we can give him the performance he deserves.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Mariners have lost their past five games. The last time they lost more in succession was a six-game drought in February-March 2016.
* Newcastle have won just one of their past eight away games in NSW.
* Central Coast have scored a league-low 10 first-half goals this season.
Statistics supplied by Opta
Australian Associated Press