Central Coast haven’t beaten South Australia’s Adelaide United since 2016, but the Mariners are confident they can make a breakthrough in their do-or-die A-League Men elimination final.
United and the Mariners both have a streak of five wins en route to Sunday’s game at Cooper’s Stadium, with the winner facing Melbourne City or Melbourne Victory in the two-legged semi-final next week.
Mariners coach Nick Montgomery backed up his accusations, who beat Adelaide 3-0 in their most recent clash, albeit at Gosford, to step up.
“We are not afraid of anyone, we are not afraid to go anywhere, we are not afraid of large crowds,” Montgomery said.
“Everything is on the line and we are confident. It doesn’t matter who plays, who comes on the team, everyone knows the business, everyone follows the game plan and in the end we stick together.”
Montgomery saw similarities between his Mariners and the championship-winning team of 2013.
“You’ve seen how excited we’ve been in the last 15 games…we’ve had a lot of setbacks, we’ve dealt with a lot of things on and off the pitch, as well as some outrageous decisions that led to us going against them,” he said. .
“Final comparisons and some fantastic young players who I think have tremendous careers in the game and this is just the beginning for them.
“For me as a coach who gets out and really looks at the team, I think there are a lot of comparisons to that championship-winning team.”
Montgomery had planned to leave decisions about Dan Hall and Moresche, who are under injury clouds, until the last possible moment.
Adelaide counterpart Carl Veart was confident the Reds could topple the poor recent final form.
“In general, the teams that are at the top are the best teams and they perform in the finals, so it’s difficult,” he said.
“But we will give it a good chance this year, we believe we have the quality here and play a brand of football that can push it to the limit.”
Players like Craig Goodwin will have to be at their best to beat in-form Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, while Veart stressed that Adelaide should limit the supply to striker Jason Cummings.
“They have a young side, so that’s something we need to take advantage of and put a little bit of pressure on them,” Veart said.
“It’s a final game, young players, a little different pressure, so we have to try to use our experience on the pitch to see if we get an advantage.”