Central Coast may be playing for pride in the A-League but they have the chance on Friday night to all-but-end local-rival Newcastle's finals hopes.
Central Coast would enjoy "no greater pleasure" than dashing Newcastle's faint finals hopes when the fierce A-League rivals face off in Friday night's F3 derby at Central Coast Stadium.
Newcastle sit just three points outside the finals places in eighth, but as the teams around them have games in hand they realistically need to win their three remaining matches to stay in the race for the top six.
"There's a lot on the line," Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said on Thursday.
"I don't know what descriptive words you'd use to describe the match but it's obviously a very important game for them and it's important for us in terms of restoring a little bit of pride in our season and in the way we've been going - so it's extremely important for both."
"For Newcastle it's almost life and death - they have to win every game to get in the finals.
"So we'd take no greater pleasure than trying to knock them out of the finals race - it's going to be a great contest."
The Jets are flying high off the back of a comeback 2-1 win over competition leaders Sydney FC on Tuesday but face a tight three-day turnaround as they prepare to face the Mariners, who are coming off a six-day break.
With three games left, the bottom-of-the-ladder Mariners are playing for pride and need a win or draw to avoid setting a new A-League record of 12 consecutive losses.
Central Coast will be without striker Jordan Murray, who dislocated his left shoulder in last Saturday's 1-0 loss to Perth Glory.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Newcastle have won four of their past five A-League games - more than they had managed in their previous 18 (W3, D6, L9)
* Central Coast have lost 11 consecutive A-League games, equalling the record set by New Zealand Knights in 2005
* The Mariners will be looking for their first F3 derby win in three attempts this season after a 1-1 draw in the teams' first meeting and a 4-3 loss in the second.