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Mariners A-League boss has goal in mind

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/03/2017 Adrian Warren

Central Coast coach Paul Okon has another goal in mind if his teams' A-League finals hopes are crushed and it has nothing to do with avoiding the wooden spoon.

With four rounds remaining, just two points separate bottom of the table Adelaide (18) and the ninth-placed Mariners (20), who meet in Gosford on Saturday.

A victory would vault the defending champions over the Mariners, who finished 12 points adrift at the bottom of the league last season.

On Friday, Okon was still clinging to a mathematical hope of making the top six, but also had another target in mind.

"We hope to get to that 26-point mark where we double the points tally from last season," Okon said.

"If we miss out on the (top) six we want to finish as high as possible and that's a bit of a goal that we've set ourselves.

"Our first game is Adelaide and we're back at home.

"I see no reason for us to go into that game with anything but confidence.

"We've beaten them twice this season, so I think it's a question of more of the same and we've improved since then. Hopefully we see that during the game."

Adelaide are seeking to avoid the ignominy of going from top to bottom in successive seasons.

"I guess the highs of last year and being where we are now it's not great for the club," Adelaide defender Michael Marrone said on Friday.

"There's only a few games left and we want to finish on a high, we don't want to be on the bottom."

The Mariners prevailed 2-1 home and away in both of their previous encounters with Adelaide this season.

"I thought we were very unlucky the last game we played them, we should have got something," Marrone said.

"I think there will be plenty of chances this game and we just have to make it count."

Marrone said the much publicised post-match altercation following last week's game against Brisbane and the subsequent fallout had not distracted the team.

Adelaide's star midfielder Isaias was named in the squad for Saturday after recovering from a knee injury which sidelined him for six games.

Okon said he had a good selection dilemma in the goalkeeping area, with Paul Izzo available again after suspension and Ivan Necevski performing well in his absence.

STATS THAT MATTER

*The Mariners have scored twice in each of their past four games against Adelaide.

*Adelaide United have won on two of their past three trips to Central Coast Stadium.

*The Mariners have scored two goals in five of their past six home games.

Stats supplied by Opta.

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