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Thirty-five points split Central Coast and Western Sydney at the end of the Australian A-League regular season last term and bookmakers are betting on Saturday’s match between the Mariners and the Wanderers as though that gulf still exists.
Central Coast was a mess last season, its results under Tony Walmsley breaking a number of club records in all the wrong ways. Central Coast’s Australian A-League record of 3-4-20 left it 12 points adrift at the foot of the ladder and the Mariners failed to keep a clean sheet in their 27 divisional matches. Losing 2-4 at home to local rival Newcastle in the final Australian A-League round was the final insult to Central Coast supporters, who demanded Walmsley’s head.
Walmsley was set to lead Central Coast in the new Australian A-League competition before the Mariners lost 1-2 at Green Gully in the Australian FFA Cup, thereby becoming just the second top-flight team to fall victim to a state league side in the knockout tournament. Walmsley could not survive that result and, eventually, Central Coast appointed Paul Okon, a trophy-winning player with APOEL, Club Brugge and Lazio.
Central Coast was heading for a heavy defeat in the first round of the Australian A-League, trailing Perth 0-3 at half time at nib Stadium. But whatever Okon said during the break worked the oracle because Central Coast fought back to draw 3-3 and came away thinking that it should have won.
Steady improvement has been the story of Central Coast under Okon and the Mariners posted their best result yet last time out, scoring either side of half time to beat Perth at their Central Coast Stadium. Central Coast has won two of its last four Australian A-League games, which is a damn sight better than Western Sydney’s recent divisional statistics. Western Sydney has not won any of its last six Australian A-League matches and, if Brendan Santalab had not scored in injury time at Adelaide in October, it would be without a win.
Central Coast and Western Sydney have had five common Australian A-League opponents and, according to one’s collateral form analysis, the Mariners hold a 3-1-1 advantage over the Wanderers. Furthermore, Central Coast drew 1-1 with Western Sydney when the teams met in round five of the Australian A-League at the latter’s Spotless Stadium, with the Mariners having more corner kicks and shots on target than the more respected Wanderers.
Eight rounds is a fair chunk of an Australian A-League campaign and one thinks that there is sufficient data to suggest that Central Coast is grossly overpriced at odds of +300 with Marathonbet to beat Western Sydney this weekend. Bookmakers are betting as though nothing has changed from last term and that is far from the truth. Central Coast is playing some nice football under Okon, about whom there are big coaching raps, and Western Sydney has yet to shut out an Australian A-League foe. Leave one out of backing a road side at odds on with Western Sydney’s defensive numbers.
Central Coast Mariners to beat Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 3rd December, 06:35 GMT
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