Mulvey to turn to youth

Mike Mulvey's patience has run out with his Central Coast side, after they claimed an unwanted record with their 2-0 defeat away to Wellington Phoenix.

The Mariners have posted the worst start to an A-League season, with just two points from the opening eight rounds.

Their overall record stands at just one win in their last 26 league games, and Mulvey feels it's time to shake things up with his selections.

Mulvey admits the Gosford club are "way off the pace at the moment", and are being held back by fear.

The Mariners finished bottom of the table last season and risk being cast adrift by the other teams before the turn of the year.

They suffered a sixth consecutive defeat in Wellington, which could be the catalyst to a turn to youth.

Mulvey said: "We do have a plan but we need to now give some of our young lads a bit of a chance and next week [against Newcastle Jets] is a good opportunity to do that."

The Mariners coach said the Mariners were continuing to shoot themselves in the foot, conceding first-half goals against the Phoenix to Louis Fenton and Sarpreet Singh.

"We need to be on the ball, we need to be there in key moments and we weren't today," said Mulvey, who returned as an A-League coach in the off-season four years after being sacked by Brisbane Roar.

"We've got to give the young lads a go," he added. "We had a couple of lads come on towards the end of the game, Josh Macdonald and Mario Shabow and they deserve game time now.

"They don't have any fear; some lads unfortunately get a little bit gripped by fear."

Central Coast are 5/2 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 1/1 with the draw 13/5.

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Phoenix pass ‘bigger test’

Wellington Phoenix had to adjust to going from huge underdogs to favourites in the space of a week, and did it well, according to coach Mark Rudan.

The Phoenix beat Central Coast 2-0 at Westpac Stadium, earning back-to-back victories after having gone to Sydney FC and won last weekend.

Three defeats from three games during November had suggested that Rudan's side would spend the rest of the campaign in the wrong half of the table, but the coach didn't agree with that assessment.

A performance widely seen as the team turning the corner came on 2nd December when they held leaders Perth to a 1-1 draw in Wellington.

It was only after being reduced to 10 men that the Phoenix conceded a late equaliser against the Glory, and they followed that up with a first-half blitz of Sydney FC last week.

They were 3-0 up against the Sky Blues before the break, and this time in beating the Mariners they again had a comfortable cushion courtesy of goals from Louis Fenton and Sarpreet Singh.

Rudan said that having surprised the reigning premiers away from home, he was very pleased to see his team cope with the unusual challenge of being favourites against the A-League's bottom side.

"We challenged the players at the start of the week. It was a fantastic performance and result last week, but we kept them calm and focused and it was a bigger test this week against a team, for the first time this year, that we were expected to beat," he added.

"That was the most pleasing thing, because it's a mentality more than anything else.

"We've shown that we can do it against the league leaders a couple of weeks ago, we've shown that we can do it away from home, but can we do it at home against a team we were expected to beat and I thought today that was key."

Wellington are 11/8 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 15/8 with the draw 12/5.

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Mariners make worst start

Central Coast Mariners hit a new low in their 2-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

The Mariners have made the worst start to a season in A-League history, having picked up just two points from eight matches under coach Mike Mulvey.

They had an early chance, which Jordan Murray fired over the top from an acute angle, but trailed by two goals before the break.

Wellington made it two consecutive victories for the first time since April last year, strikes from Louis Fenton and Sarpreet Singh guiding them to a comfortable win.

The home side were rarely troubled at the back, and have now conceded just two goals in the space of three games.

Wellington broke the deadlock inside ten minutes, right wing back Fenton netting just his fifth league goal since February 2016.

Fenton was able to take advantage of having stayed just onside when the rebound from Mandi's long-range shot – deflected on its way to keeper Adam Pearce – fell to him.

Singh doubled the lead in the 45th minute, this time beating Pearce in a one-on-one.

He got his chance after Roy Krishna, released by a low pass from Liberato Cacace, drew two defenders before squaring the ball to him.

Coach Mark Rudan had to substitute defender Michal Kopczynski due to a hamstring injury, slotting Tom Doyle into the back three.

What chances came in the second half, though, were created by Wellington.

Nathan Burns couldn't profit from a couple of opportunities, continuing a goalless drought that has now lasted more than 2000 minutes.

The nearest the Mariners came was when Mario Shabow's long-range effort was palmed away by keeper Filip Kurto.

Central Coast are 5/2 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 1/1 with the draw 13/5.

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Six of the best as Victory go top

Melbourne Victory took over at the top of the A-League table with a sixth consecutive win, as they beat Brisbane Roar 4-2.

A remarkable game at Suncorp Stadium saw six goals, two penalties and a red card in the first half.

Victory's Ola Toivonen scored at both ends, heading an own goal just 10 minutes after putting his team ahead 2-1.

Brisbane were reduced to 10 men only 20 minutes into the match, when French marquee Eric Bautheac was shown two yellow cards, but still they managed to score twice before half-time.

The goals were all confined to a 34-minute period in the first-half, but the game started with a dramatic escape for Victory, who cleared the ball off their goalline three times within seconds.

Avraam Papadopoulos, Adam Taggart and Stefan Mauk were all denied, to the home crowd's disbelief, and the Roar conceded the first goal on 13 minutes.

Kosta Barbarouses got the first of his two on the night when he swept home a James Troisi pass, after Keisuke Honda had won the ball in midfield.

Brisbane's hopes took another big dent seven minutes later when Bautheac launched into a wild challenge on Victory defender Corey Brown.

He earned a yellow card for the challenge, but then became involved in a scuffle off the ball and referee Adam Fielding dismissed him.

The 10 men levelled from the penalty spot when Honda tripped Adam Taggart inside the area and the Roar striker picked himself up to convert.

Toivonen put the visitors back in front, sweeping home his third goal in as many games, and it became 3-1 with five minutes to go to half-time.

Daniel Bowles was pinged for a handball in the box and Honda stepped up to net his fifth goal of the campaign.

Toivonen misdirected a header when Alex Lopez sent in a free-kick to get the Roar back into the game at 3-2, but there was still time for a sixth goal of the half.

Two minutes into added time, Honda and Troisi set up Barbarouses for the All Whites international to net against his former club.

The Roar are 15/8 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 11/8 with the draw 12/5.

Brisbane are 10/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Phoenix seeking rare double

Hard work is the recipe Wellington Phoenix believe can help them build on their impressive away win against Sydney FC.

The Phoenix beat the Sky Blues, who have won the last two Premier's Plates, 3-1 at Jubilee Oval at the weekend and ended a five-game winless run.

They are now level on points with sixth-placed Newcastle Jets, and on paper look to have a great chance of climbing the ladder over the next fortnight.

Their next two games are at home to the bottom two teams, Central Coast and then Brisbane Roar.

If they can beat the Mariners it will be the first time they've achieved back-to-back wins in the same season since April 2017.

But defender Steven Taylor, who scored the third of their goals against the Sky Blues, says coach Mark Rudan's message has been that they can't allow their concentration to slip after that win against Steve Corica's side.

"The manager has made it very clear in the meeting this morning, we have to look to get some back-to-back wins under our belt and obviously build on it," said Taylor.

Rudan has been putting the players through double training sessions this week to ensure they are in the best condition for the Mariners game.

Taylor said: "The manager has been strict and has worked us hard. He knows we've got to maintain the levels we're showing at the moment and the boys are doing it.

"We believe in ourselves and work hard together. You can see the team spirit on and off the pitch, the lads are doing the extras, they're doing the grafting and that's showing."

Keeper Filip Kurton should be available again, after missing the Sydney FC game due to concussion.

Wellington are 11/4 to finish in the top six.

The Phoenix are 3/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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McCormack goes back to England

Central Coast striker Ross McCormack has returned to England after picking up a knee injury late last month.

The Scotland international, who is on loan with the Mariners for the whole season, has gone back to parent club Aston Villa for assessment on his injury.

The marquee was injured in the 3-2 defeat away to league leaders Perth Glory, and has missed the past two games.

His absence is a blow for the Gosford club, who have lost five games on the trot and are bottom of the table with just two points from seven matches.

Coach Mike Mulvey said McCormack had flown back to the UK to check in with a specialist, adding: "We expect him back just before Christmas and the best situation we can see at this stage would be having Ross eligible for selection for our New Year's Eve game against Perth Glory."

Saturday's trip to Wellington Phoenix could see the return of young striker Jordan Murray, who has made four substitute appearances so far since signing in the off-season.

Murray scored prolifically in the NPL for APIA Leichhardt, netting 43 goals in 64 games over a two-year stint.

Mulvey said Murray was an exciting prospect who was chomping at the bit and deserved his opportunity.

The Mariners are hoping to have both Tommy Oar and Corey Gameiro back on the field around the turn of the year.

Oar has started running again, following a knee problem, and could play at home to Newcastle on 23rd December, while Gameiro is closing in on his club debut.

Speaking of Gameiro, Mulvey said: "He is working hard to return from a calf injury and we're confident that we will have him back to full team training around that Christmas period."

Central Coast are 6/1 to finish in the top six.

The Mariners are 7/2 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 3/4 with the draw 11/4.

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High-press plan worked for Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix's 3-1 win away to defending premiers Sydney FC may have surprised the A-League, but to coach Mark Rudan it was just a case of successful planning.

The Phoenix hadn't won since beating Newcastle at home in the opening round, and pundits didn't give them much of a chance of turning over Steve Corica's side at Jubilee Oval.

But the game was virtually over by half time as the visitors took a three-goal lead, with record scorer Roy Krishna scoring twice and Steven Taylor also on target.

Though the Sky Blues managed to get a goal back in the second half, they didn't look like getting anything else out of the game.

And Rudan felt, although it was their best performance in recent memory, it had been something of a carry-over from their outing when they held leaders Perth Glory to a 1-1 draw the previous week.

Wellington were able to press high up the pitch against Corica's side, just as they were against Glory when they were only denied the three points by a late equaliser after they'd had a man sent off.

Speaking of the win over Sydney FC, the coach said: "A lot of planning and preparation [went] into this game; we wanted to press them high, you saw both of Roy's goals were exactly the same. We worked on the training pitch to open them up the same way, that's where I'm most pleased."

He added: "People were talking about what we were doing at the start of the season, but there was always a plan as far as I was concerned."

The Phoenix are monitoring the fitness of Krishna, who was substituted midway through the second half with a hamstring injury.

Left wing-back Liberato Cacace suffered a hip injury later in the half, but Rudan hopes the pair will both be fit enough to line up against winless Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Wellington are 66/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 3/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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Phoenix cause big upset

Former Sydney FC player Mark Rudan got one over his old team as Wellington Phoenix caused a big upset by winning 3-1 at Jubilee Stadium.

The Phoenix, without a win under new coach Rudan since the opening round, were three goals up by half-time.

The home side missed a golden chance to go in front after 14 minutes, when Adam le Fondre blasted over the bar from close range from Paulo Retre's cross.

And seven minutes later they conceded the opener, with Dutch centre-half Jop van der Linden being partly responsible for all three goals.

Van der Linden and left-back Michael Zullo were caught out by Sarpreet Singh's through ball that put Roy Krishna clear on goal.

Krishna, who last week against leaders Perth had become Wellington's all-time record goalscorer, kept his cool to make it 1-0.

The Fiji international was on the mark again nine minutes later, Mandi picking him out with a pass as he ran between van der Linden and Zullo to slide the ball home.

The Sky Blues were finding it difficult to contain the visitors' simple, no-frills football and they fell further behind seven minutes before the interval.

Liberato Cacace sent in an early cross into the box and defender Steven Taylor jumped above van der Linden to give Rudan's side a commanding advantage.

The Phoenix had 10 shots in the first half to Sydney FC's four, and Sky Blues coach Steve Corica made a switch at the break as he brought on Siem de Jong to try to increase the team's attacking threat.

Wellington lost Krishna just before the hour mark to a hamstring injury, and the home side managed a consolation goal a minute from time.

Zullo's deflected effort found the back of the net after Wellington defender Louis Fenton appeared to be fouled in the lead up to Le Fondre missing almost an open goal.

Wellington are 66/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 3/4 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

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Phoenix plan for new arrivals

Wellington Phoenix are looking to bolster their squad when the transfer window opens on 3rd January.

The struggling A-League side have the opportunity to add another overseas player as Fijian striker Roy Krishna gained New Zealand citizenship on Thursday.

Coach Mark Rudan has the minimum number of players in his squad, 20, so could bring in up to three new faces in January.

Two of the spots would be filled with New Zealand players, he's indicated, adding: "At the same time that we're looking for a visa player because we've got that spot, I haven't discounted, and have been watching, the local premiership as well.

"But the A-League is a different beast and a different environment as well, but they'll be getting a phone call sometime soon and there is a couple of weeks break there in the league, so an opportunity to have a look at them in our environment as well. That process will start very soon."

Krishna became the Phoenix's all-time record scorer when he put them in front against league leaders Perth last time out.

He hasn't had much support in terms of goals, though, with Wellington having managed only four in their first six games.

One signing Rudan did make this week was to bring in 43-year-old goalkeeper Ante Covic as injury cover for Polish shot-stopper Filip Kurto.

Oliver Sail, who replaced Kurton when he was concussed in the Glory match, will be between the sticks against Sydney FC on Saturday while Covic – an Asian Champions League winner with Western Sydney in 2014 – will be on the bench.

Ryan Lowry will miss the match against the Sky Blues after being sent off against Perth.

Wellington are 7/1 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 4/11 with the draw 17/4.

De Silva in frame for Sky Blues start

Daniel De Silva could get his first start for Sydney FC when they host struggling Wellington Phoenix on Saturday.

The attacking midfielder has been struggling with a hamstring injury since the start of the season, making just two substitute appearances in the league for the Sky Blues.

He was ineligible to play last week against Central Coast, who are his parent club, but got through 60 minutes for the club's youth team against Western Sydney to continue his comeback from injury.

The 21-year-old is in the frame to start against a Phoenix side who are next to bottom in the table and haven't won since the opening round.

"It was good to play with the youth to get some minutes, an opportunity to get some match fitness," said De Silva. "It's always good to be in contention and whatever the coach decides you obviously respect that as a player.

"When the opportunity comes you have to take it with both hands, I'm looking forward to getting back out there this weekend and I'm looking forward to it and the rest of the season as well."

Coach Steve Corica is likely to find a spot on the bench for Dutch marquee Siem de Jong, who has been out for a month with a hamstring injury.

Speaking of his potential return at Jubilee Oval, the 29-year-old said of his hamstring: "It's going well and I'm feeling good. I've been training during the week with the team and testing it out."

Wellington will have keeper Filip Kurto unavailable as he recovers from a concussion, and have signed former Western Sydney stopper Ante Covic as short-term cover.

Sydney FC are 3/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 4/11 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 7/1 with the draw 17/4.

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