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Apr 1, 2021 at 9.40am UK
Central CoastCentral Coast Mariners
Adelaide UnitedAdelaide United
Bozanic (72'), Kuol (76')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Yengi (48')
Cavallo (78')

Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Adelaide United - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Adelaide United - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Australian A-League clash between Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

The Australian A-League's top two will lock horns on Thursday when Central Coast Mariners host Adelaide United at the Central Coast Stadium.

Alen Stajcic's side have been at the summit for the last 10 weeks but could be knocked off their perch if the visitors were to win their seventh successive game.

Match preview

After an impressive run of six victories in eight matches, league leaders Central Coast Mariners have since failed to win any of their last three league games.

A 2-2 draw at home to Perth Glory and a disappointing 2-0 defeat to high-flying Melbourne City were followed by a 1-1 draw against basement club Melbourne Victory last weekend.

Former Wigan Athletic winger Callum McManaman gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute before Mariners striker Marco Urena equalised just 11 minutes later. However, the hosts struggled to break down Victory and had to settle for just a point.

Central Coast Mariners, who won their only league title in 2012-13, were seven points clear at the A-League summit in early March but head into April with just one point separating them from Adelaide United, who also have a game in hand.

Stajcic's side have lost their last two games against Thursday's opponents, conceding five goals in the process, but a victory on home soil would keep them at the top of the table, although they may lose that place at the summit regardless, if Melbourne City were to win their two games in hand.

Adelaide United extended their winning run to six matches after a narrow 1-0 home victory against Sydney FC last weekend.

It was a cagey affair at the Hindmarsh Stadium up until the 76th minute and then Kusini Yengi was brought down inside the penalty area, with Craig Goodwin sending the keeper the wrong way to seal all three points.

That result has seen the Reds climb into second place and a victory on Thursday would see them leapfrog Central Coast Mariners to the A-League summit, topping the table for the first time this season.

Carl Veart is delighted with his side's recent run of form, which has seen them score 16 goals in their last six matches; only Melbourne City (20) have score more in this period.

Adelaide United recently beat the Mariners 3-2 on February 19, with Tomi Juric scoring three penalties in what was an entertaining encounter in southern Australia.

Both Juric and Veart will be hoping for more joy in midweek as the Reds continue their march towards their first A-League title since the 2015-16 campaign.

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

Adelaide United Australian A-League form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Gianni Stensness, who has been suffering with a leg injury, returned to the starting lineup last weekend but was withdrawn at half time as a precaution, and the 22-year-old is doubtful for Thursday's match.

Defender Kye Rowles was sent off in the defeat to Adelaide United in February but is available and is set to start at centre-back, partnering the ever-present Ruon Tongyik.

Experienced forward Matt Simon, who is the club's joint-top goalscorer this season with six goals, is expected to lead the line alongside either Urena or Alou Kuol.

Adelaide United remain without midfield duo Ryan Kitto and Nathan Konstandopoulos, who are both recovering from injuries.

However, the midfield has not struggled too much in their absence, with Stefan Mauk hitting a fine run of goalscoring form, netting four goals in his last five matches.

Goalkeeper Joe Gauci, who excelled in the victory over Sydney FC, is expected to keep his place ahead of James Delianov, who has missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury.

Striker Yengi could be in line for another start on Thursday, having scored two goals and provided two assists in his last three appearances.

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

Adelaide United possible starting lineup:
Gauci; Strain, Elsey, Jakobsen, Lopez; Mauk, D'Arrigo, Cavallo; Halloran, Yengi, Goodwin

We say: Central Coast Mariners 1-2 Adelaide United

Both Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United have the chance to end the week at the summit with a victory on Thursday, but the two sides will have to be on top of their game if they are to secure three points in what is expected to be another close encounter.

The visitors look full of confidence right now, and we expect their strong run of form to continue with a narrow win at the Central Coast Stadium.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals 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.Under 3.5:data

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