Mariners miss midfield general Montgomery

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Nick Montgomery certainly picked a hell of a time to get the first red card of his career.

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Nick Montgomery certainly picked a hell of a time to get the first red card of his career.

The Englishman will miss this weekend-s Grand Final after receiving two yellow cards in the semi-final against Melbourne Victory, and the 31-year-old has spent the early part of this week before the decider coming to terms with the fact that he will take no part in the biggest game of the season.

After more the 350 games in England without a dismissal, it-s no wonder he-s had some trouble getting to grips with it.

“I-m just bitterly disappointed,- he says. “I can-t quite believe it. The first red card of my career and it happens just before a grand final. I didn-t think I deserved it.

“The first yellow I didn-t kick it away, the ball just bounced off my leg. The second card, I through it was a fair challenge. If you slow it down it looks bad but at the speed of the game, there was nothing malicious in it.

“What can you do? I was really down for the first couple of days this week but I came into training this morning and just had to get my head down and get on with it. This week-s not about me; the focus has to be on the team and the boys going out there on Sunday and winning the final.”

Montgomery has already missed one game this season, the round 19 draw against Brisbane Roar, and had to watch as Oli Bozanic took over his role with some aplomb - only to go off with a dislocated shoulder. Then youngster Anthony Caceres came on and showed he could do the job just as well too.

The Englishman admits it-s going to be tough having to watch the game from the sidelines while his teammates fight for silverware.

“I can-t even watch a game when I-m injured, so I don-t know what I-m going to do being suspended! But we-ve got plenty of good players who can come in. Oli Bozanic did a great job earlier in the season, and Anthony Caceres as well.

“The thing about a red card in Australia, you can-t even be in the changing rooms or anywhere near the players before kick off. I-ve never heard of that before. In England, you get sent off, you miss the game and that-s your punishment.

“But again, this week-s not about me. I-ll still be talking to the boys this week, especially some of the younger ones, trying to help out where I can.”

Strebre Delovksi-s pocket did level the field a little bit last weekend; now both teams are missing an influential import, with Wanderers winger Youssouf Hersi also suspended for Sunday-s decider.

Both players represent big losses for their teams but Montgomery-s history in England - in playoffs and even facing Tony Popovic on the field - would certainly have lent some unique experience for Graham Arnold-s side on the field.

Montgomery is quick to pay tribute to the Wanderers- success this season and says despite Western Sydney-s triumph the last time the two sides met, Central Coast have what it takes to break down the other best defence in the league.

“Tony has done such a good job,” Montgomery says. “Obviously he was in England for a while and I actually played against him when he was at Crystal Palace.

“The Wanderers style is quite direct; they-re happy to let you have the ball then they-ll hit you on the break. It-s quite an English style and I-m used to playing against teams like that. They-ve got some good physical players, five very good foreigners and obviously a player like Shinji Ono who can change the game in an instant.

“But you look back to that game we lost at Bluetongue. I don-t think anyone who was there on the night couldn-t say we didn-t dominate. We created loads of chances and missed a penalty. But they had one chance and they took it, so credit to them. Sometimes football goes like that.

“We-ve been creating chances all season, we know we can score goals and we-re confident going into the weekend.”