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

:Headline: Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Macarthur - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:438157: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews Monday's Australian A-League clash between Central Coast Mariners and Macarthur, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

It is a top-of-the-table clash in the A-League as Central Coast Mariners and Macarthur lock horns at the Central Coast Stadium on Monday.

Separated by four points, both sides occupy the top two spots in the standings, with the hosts leading the league with 21 points from 10 matches.

Match preview

Central Coast Mariners have been the dark horses in the A-League, following their disappointing 11th-placed finish in the previous campaign.

The Gosford outfit started February with a run of three wins on the bounce, pulling four points clear at the top of the table.

That run was ended by Adelaide United on February 19, when striker Tomi Juric scored three penalties to give Carl Veart's men a 3-2 win.

Alen Stajcic's side quickly bounced back to winning ways when they squared off with Perth Glory on Tuesday, claiming a 2-1 at the HBF Park.

Perth striker Bruno Fornaroli found the back of the net in the 65th minute, but it was not enough, as Matt Simon and Marco Urena had given the visitors a 2-0 first-half lead.

Macarthur's three-game unbeaten streak was ended by free-scoring Western United, who cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win two weeks ago.

Like Monday's hosts, they quickly returned to winning ways when they travelled to the Leichhardt Oval to take on Sydney FC last time out.

In a game where Sydney midfielder Paulo Retre took an early bath, Matt Derbyshire's 36th-minute strike was all that separated both sides as Ante Milicic's side claimed a 1-0 win.

Following a 2-0 win in January's reverse fixture, the Mariners will be aiming for back-to-back wins against the visitors, who come into this tie with a fine away record, having picked up four wins from five games on the road.

They take on a side who boast the second-best home record this term, only behind Adelaide United, and this promises to be an entertaining contest.

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

Macarthur Australian A-League form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Stajcic has the luxury of a fully-fit squad at his disposal, meaning Kye Rowles and Ruon Tongyik could pair in central defence for the 11th straight game.

On the other hand, Macarthur will be without the services of veteran full-back James Meredith, who picked up a groin injury in the game against Western United.

Another absentee for the visitors is Australian-born forward Milisav Popovic, who is yet to make an appearance since making his move from Austrian-based side Lafnitz.

Matt Derbyshire has been a standout performer in the A-League, sitting second in the scoring charts with seven goals, and he will once again lead the Bulls' attack.

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

Macarthur possible starting lineup:
Federici; Meredith, Milligan, Jovanovic, Franjic; Etxebarria, Genreau; Najjar, Puyo, Susaeta; Derbyshire

We say: Central Coast Mariners 2-1 Macarthur

Both sides have been impressive so far this season, but despite being evenly matched on paper, we predict the Mariners grab all three points on Monday and extend their lead at the top of the table.

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