Central Coast are firmly in the hunt for an A-League Men finals spot but will have to get past rivals Newcastle to take a step towards sealing a top-six berth.
With an A-League Men finals berth within touching distance, Central Coast will embrace the extra heat of an F3 derby against Newcastle.
Central Coast Mariners - Newcastle Jets
- The F3 derby between Mariners and Jets takes place this Saturday.
- A win by Central Coast could see them surpass Bulls in the A-League into a finals place.
- Mariners are currently eight in the ladder, Newcastle tenth.
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The Mariners sit two points behind sixth-placed Macarthur FC and can leapfrog the Bulls and fifth-placed Wellington with a victory, while they would effectively extinguish Newcastle's fading finals hopes.
"They're five points behind now. We got a game in hand on Macarthur so three points gets us into a top six spot," defender Storm Roux said.
"They're always fiery, it's a derby. So that on top of it is extra special and a bigger game than normal.
"It's always a good game against them, the derby and it'd probably make it extra special if we get three points and knock them out of contention and put us into the top six.
"It's always fiery and I'm sure it's going to put that extra spice on the game tomorrow with the stakes being so high."
Western Sydney managed to limit the influence of Jets playmaker Daniel Penha in their 3-2 win on Wednesday and coach Nick Montgomery was wary of Newcastle's attacking stocks.
"He's without doubt one of the best players in the league. He's a dangerous player, (Beka) Mikeltadze's a good player, the way they play," he said.
"We always go out to try and win the game, so we try not to worry about the opposition too much.
"But of course you have to be aware of players like that and attacking wise, they get bodies forward so we have to be disciplined and I think that's one thing we've been really good at.
"They recruited well, they spent a lot of money in the off-season and brought in some good players.
"So you have to be aware of (those) players because they're the players that if you give them time and space, they'll punish you."
Lewis Miller is available after serving his red-card suspension while Montgomery wouldn't be drawn on whether Oliver Bozanic (personal reasons) would return.
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