With a mounting injury toll and a horrible away record it's hard to see Heart dredging up enough motivation to finish the season with an upset win.
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2013 Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Head-to-head: Played: 10 - Wins: Mariners 7, Heart 2, Draws: 1
Previous encounter: Mariners 2, Heart 0, December 14, 2012
Form: Past five matches: Mariners: WWLLW Heart: LLLLW
The Game These sides couldn't have more contrasting incentives to win this clash. Melbourne Heart's hopes of making the finals ended on Sunday with 2-0 loss to Brisbane Roar while Central Coast are still a chance to snare the premier's plate. If Graham Arnold's men bank the three points and Western Sydney Wanderers lose to Newcastle Jets they will pinch top spot on the table.
Melbourne Heart will be hoping Wellington Phoenix lose at home to Melbourne Victory, otherwise they'll have to beat the Mariners to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
The Big Issue Mariners: Daniel McBreen's opener against Adelaide United last weekend took him to the top of the charts again with his 16th. But with Jeremy Brockie on 15, Marco Rojas 14 and Besart Berisha and Alessandro Del Piero on 13 he'll want to jag one past Clint Bolton on Saturday in order to clinch the A-League's golden boot award.
Heart: The season may be a lost cause but a number of Heart players will be playing for their futures on Saturday. Continuing injuries since Christmas has exposed Heart's fringe players and final-round performances could sway whether uncontracted players are kept on the roster for 2013/14.
The Gamebreaker Michael McGlinchey could almost lay claim to being the best player in this season's Hyundai A-League. The New Zealander's six-goal contribution from midfield has been invaluable for the Mariners and a massive improvement on his goal-scoring tallies of previous seasons. But the most telling part of his rise this season has been the fact he's created more goalscoring chances than any other player.
McGlinchey sat out the All White's easy win over the Solomon Islands on Tuesday but played the full 90 minutes for New Zealand in their crucial 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia in Dunedin on Friday, helping Ricki Herbert's charges secure a 2-1 victory.
Prediction: Mariners 2-0 Heart With a mounting injury toll and a horrible away record it's hard to see Heart dredging up enough motivation to finish the season with an upset win. Simon Colosimo (suspension) and Patrick Gerhardt (international duty) will return to boost their midfield, but Graham Arnold's side look to be far better equipped.
Heart are just too undermanned to tip them to challenge the competition leaders on the road. A Pedj Bojic double gave the Mariners a 2-0 victory against the Heart when they last met in Round 11 and were predicting a similar score line in Round 27.