Mariners determined to salvage season

Central Coast Mariners players and coaches have met to thrash out a plan aimed at making the last nine rounds of the competition count for something.


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If the bottom-placed Mariners went on a miracle run in which they suddenly started racking up win after win and ended up challenging for a finals berth that would be the ultimate, but more realistically at this stage they aim to avoid finishing with the wooden spoon.

"We set ourselves targets this season that unfortunately we've not reached in terms of points on the board," Central Coast captain Nick Montgomery told The World Game.

"But with nine games to go we've had a meeting and just sort of said 'look, we're realistic in terms of where we can finish the season, but we've just got to take it game by game starting with Adelaide on Sunday and start putting some points on the board and catching those teams above us'.

"We haven't really set any points targets from here, but obviously we've got pride in not wanting to finish bottom of the league so that should be enough for any player to motivate himself to put in good performances  and cut out the mistakes that have led to us conceding goals every week.

"Stranger things have happened than making the finals from here and if we started winning games back-to-back all of a sudden things would change and we'd look at it then, but it's really about fixing a few things for us right now and improving our results off the back of that.

"We want to get off the bottom of the table for a start and what happens after that happens. Nine game is a lot of points to play for."

Central Coast are on 12 points, four behind ninth-placed Wellington Phoenix and 15 behind sixth-placed Adelaide United. The Mariners will play Adelaide at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.

After a very competitive 2-1 loss at home to league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers followed by a 3-1 away win over Wellington, Central Coast lost 4-0 on the road to second-placed Brisbane Roar last weekend.

Montgomery said that at the meeting he and the other senior players, including marquee signing Luis Garcia and veteran defender Josh Rose, had talked about the need to work better as a unit in an attempt to tighten up the defence.

"The communication at the back needs to improve," he said.

"We sort of gave Brisbane two goals in the first half and the main thing we said to the young boys going into the last nine games was 'you're young, you're inexperienced, you're quiet and we need to start talking and communicating more'.

"If we can do that better and help each other out on the pitch I've got no doubt we can beat any team in the league.

"We knew this was going to be a transition season, with the new playing style and having a young team and giving them experience. It's tough when you're losing games, but looking ahead a lot of the young boys have learned a lot from the experience this year.

"It's probably experience they wouldn't have had in any other team in the A-League because they've been playing week in, week out here and they wouldn't have had that with teams like Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, who have got all the marquees and the money."

Montgomery said he was convinced Mariners wouldn't drop their bundle and fade out badly during the closing rounds.

"No, no chance, we've got a lot of young lads, but they're hungry lads, they want to learn and want to improve and don't like losing games," he said. "We don't want to finish bottom of the league and look at each other and think 'we could have done this, or we should've done that'.

"We're good enough to be further up the table, in my opinion, but we are where we are because we've conceded goals too easily and that's been the problem all season."

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4 min read
Published 12 February 2016 at 3:48pm
By Greg Prichard