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Australian Football: Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United preview

Central Coast Mariners will be confident of booking a place in the A-League grand final when they welcome in Adelaide United for the second leg of their semi-final tie.

The Mariners recorded a 2-1 victory in the first leg at Coopers Stadium, overcoming the concession of a fourth-minute opener to claim the win thanks to goals from James McGarry and Jason Cummings.

That means they sit in the driving seat ahead of the second meeting on Saturday evening with the Reds, who have lost all three meetings between these two sides this season.

The reward for the winner of this tie is a meeting with either Melbourne City or Sydney FC, who drew 1-1 in their first leg and who face each other again on Friday evening.

WhatCentral Coast Mariners v Adelaide United
WhereIndustree Group Stadium, Gosford
When19:45 (AEST), Saturday 20th May, 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Paramount+, 10Bold
OddsCentral Coast Mariners 1.90, Draw 4.00, Adelaide United 3.75

Mariners dominate previous clashes

These two sides have already faced each other three times this season and Central Coast have won all three, giving themselves a clear psychological advantage over their opponents.

A 4-0 home win in early January was a more than convincing result, while the 4-1 success in Adelaide on the final day of the regular season was significant as it allowed the Mariners to edge second place in the standings.

That gave Central Coast a chance to rest up while the Reds saw off Wellington Phoenix 2-0 in their Elimination Final.

Having enjoyed a break, Nick Montgomery's side then returned with a bang to make it three wins out of three against Adelaide this season.

Added to that, the Reds have lost on each of their last four visits to Central Coast, so it is no surprise to see the Mariners at 1.16 to reach the grand final, while United are out at 5.00.

Farrell shines for Montgomery

Coach Montgomery made a huge call during the first leg, responding immediately to the Reds bringing on starlet Nestory Irankunda early in the second half by introducing Jacob Farrell for goalscorer McGarry.

Left-back Farrell then impressed in keeping Irankunda quiet for much of the remainder of the game, as the hosts were unable to turn their late pressure into an equaliser.

That display might have convinced Montgomery to hand Farrell a starting spot in Gosford, with United almost certain to include Irankunda from the start as they bid to turn this tie around.

Australia international striker Cummings is also sure to be a major figure in the game, having scored the winner in the first leg to end a mini-drought of three games without a goal.

He is as short as 1.72 to score at anytime on Saturday evening and is available at 4.50 to open the scoring, as the Mariners seek to reach their first grand final for a decade.

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Reds still believe they can down Mariners

Adelaide head to Industree Group Stadium still believing that they can reach their first grand final since they were crowned champions in 2016 by beating Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1.

Assistant coach Mark Milligan told the press earlier this week: "It was obviously not the result we were after, but I think we took a lot of positives from the second-half performance.

"We have to go to Central Coast and win a game of football… so the equation for us hasn't changed a great deal."

However, that positivity will be further tested by the fact that Japanese striker Hiroshi Ibusuki will miss the game due to a calf strain which forced him off during the first leg, while Jay Barnett (hamstring) continues to be sidelined.

Head coach Carl Veart also has doubts over Nick Ansell and Zach Clough, who both sustained knocks during the second half of the first leg.

The Reds will no doubt be looking to Craig Goodwin for inspiration, with the forward having scored five goals in his last six games, including three in his last two.

The Australia international is priced at 3.00 to score at anytime on Saturday, with Irankunda a 2.75 shot.

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