Mariners plan to blunt the Smeltz factor

Defender Jake McGing believes Central Coast have the game-plan to stop Wellington’s star striker Shane Smeltz on Saturday, in what is a crucial match in the Mariners’ season.

Smeltz – who sits third on the all-time Hyundai A-League goal-scorers list – will play his first match back in front of Phoenix fans since re-joining the club last month.

And with Phoenix’s leading scorer Roy Krishna unavailable through suspension, the Kiwi international looms as the biggest threat to the Mariners hopes of a win at Westpac Stadium.

Hyundai A-League preview: Phoenix v Mariners

“We looked at the video, we’ve seen at the types of runs he makes and the previous goals that he’s scored,” 22-year-old McGing told reporters on Thursday. 

Shane Smeltz.

“You have to look at what he does on the field. We’ve assessed that so hopefully we can take it into the game.”

This is the third time the two clubs will have met this season, with Phoenix winning both clashes (2-0 and 3-0).

But the Mariners believe they are a better side now, after producing a couple of excellent performances over the last fortnight.

Paul Okon’s side were unlucky to only draw 2-2 with Melbourne City on NYE, while they only just lost 3-2 against unbeaten Sydney FC last weekend.

“Results like that, even though it didn’t go our way, some of the performances during the game is a positive sign going into this week,” McGing said.

“The vibe is very good here. We made a few mistakes in [the Sydney FC] game, hopefully we can patch them up for the next game.

Defence: Jake McGing - Mariners

McGing added: “We’re going to stick to our game plan against them. We have a different game plan each week and we adapt to each team going into it. But they are definitely there for the taking.”

The Mariners are currently in ninth spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, six points behind the sixth-placed Jets.

They have been boosted this week by the return of experienced midfielder Mickael Tavares from injury, while young striker Josh Bingham has also been added to the travelling squad.