Mariners set to attack in Wellington clash

Central Coast Mariners are set to revert to their more attacking formation against Wellington Phoenix at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday night.

Central Coast

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Last weekend, against competition heavyweights Western Sydney Wanderers, Mariners switched from the 4-3-3 formation they had recently been using to a more conservative 4-2-3-1. Wanderers won 2-1.

But, against a Phoenix side that is not nearly as well defensively co-ordinated than the Wanderers, the word out of Gosford is that Central Coast will go back to being more proactive in the final third.

Mariners players are getting used to changes in formations and being asked to play in different positions as the club continues to try to find the best way forward under coach Tony Walmsley and move off the foot of the ladder.

Mickey Neill is one player whose role varies according to changes in formation. He has been used at left-back in the 4-2-3-1 and left midfield in the 4-3-3 but admits he is happy to slot in with whatever approach Walmsley decides to take.

"It (the formation) is a week-to-week thing at the moment, depending on the game plan and whether it's a more defensive structure we're going for or a more attacking style," Neill said.

"It's chopping and changing a bit and it could possibly change this weekend as well, depending on what Tony wants to do.

"Wellington are a bit open in defence, but they've got a very good attacking line up front and they're very good at combining and putting themselves into position to score.

"I'll play wherever the coach wants to put me, that's not a problem. We're all prepared to take different approaches into games."

Neill said he was encouraged to go forward whether he was playing left-back or left midfield.

"I've just got to pick my time to go for it, really," Neill said. "

I'm considered one of the fitter players in the team, so as the game goes on I'm expected to get forward more as the opposition gets tired and that's what I try to do.

"It's a matter of work-rate. I can pretty much get up in attack and support other players and in defence I can drop all the way back to give as much cover as possible.

Neill said Central Coast's recent marquee signing, Luis Garcia, would be better off after a full week of training. Garcia made his A-League debut against Wanderers off the bench after only one training session. He is expected to again start from the bench against Wellington.

"He hasn't played a lot of football recently, but he's obviously got the experience and the football knowledge to make an impact," Neill said.

"He's getting his body right and fingers crossed he can contribute to the team again this week. As you saw last week, he wasn't on for very long but he did well and pretty much set up our goal with a great through ball."

Neill said the former Liverpool star wasn't stand-offish and had embraced the team and his role at the club.

"He has got to know the boys a lot more this week and learnt our names and the structure we're playing at the moment," Neill said.

"We're trying to do as much as possible to make it easy for him to blend into the team and we're learning a lot from him as well.

"He's been a great mentor to all the boys so far and he's always giving advice and tips here and there to all the players in the team, whether they're experienced older players or younger players.

"He's a great guy to have around and what a career he's had, it speaks for itself. It's fantastic for the Mariners to have him here and even better for promoting the A-League on the world stage."

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4 min read
Published 29 January 2016 at 10:41am
By Greg Prichard