Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

Having never won a game at Bluetongue Stadium, history is against Perth Glory in this one - but the Mariners aren't exactly on winning form.

Date: Saturday 14 April, 2012 Kick-off: 5.00pm AEST, 5.00pm local Venue: Bluetongue Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 21 Wins: Central Coast 13, Perth 3, Draws: 5

Previous encounter Perth 1, Central Coast 0, 11 March 2012

History: The Glory's record against Central Coast, and in particular at Bluetongue Stadum, is woeful. In 21 meetings since the inception of the A-League, the Western Australian side have only ever beaten the Mariners on three occasions.

The latest was the last time they met, at nib Stadium, when veteran winger Travis Dodd took advantage of a rare fumble from newly crowned NAB Young Player of the Year, goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, to score the only goal of the game.

That was a psychological win for Perth, but it will be cancelled out by the fact that they have never won in any of their eight games to date at Gosford.

Form: Past five matches: Central Coast: DWLDL Perth: WLWWW

Summary of form: Central Coast can't be happy with their results of late, even if Graham Arnold is pleased with the way they're playing.

Across all current competitions - the A-League regular season, the finals series and their AFC Champions League campaign - the Mariners have only won one of their last five games, and three of their last 11. Their most recent victory was against Wellington in the game that saw them clinch the Premiers Plate.

Have they taken the foot off the pedal since claiming the prize which is often said to be more important than a grand final win? Probably not - it's more a case that the clubs they're coming up against are peaking.

On the other hand, Perth are in blistering form at the moment on the back of a run of six wins in eight games. The question is, how much of that can we attribute to the fact that all five of those wins came in home fixtures at nib Stadium?

While they triumphed in their away fixture in Adelaide, the last time they had to travel to the east coast of Australia they fell 3-0 to the now-defunct Gold Coast United.

That was probably a blip in the radar, but that they haven't had to leave WA since that match in mid March has probably helped them steady the ship. Now that they're off again, can they keep it going?

Match Committee: These teams are both pretty close to full fitness right now, with only long-term injuries to Glory duo Evan Berger (hamstring) and Chris Coyne (Achilles) keeping them out of the selection picture.

Other than that, it's a full compliment to pick from - although the Mariners will have the disadvantage of a busier schedule due to their ACL commitments, which means some of their players will need to be eased through to be ready for their next assignment in a few days time.

Danger men: Patrick Zwaanswijk - The towering Dutch stopper will be handed the key task of keeping Perth sharpshooter Shane Smeltz from firing at Bluetongue.

The veteran can feel slightly aggrieved that he lost the Johnny Warren medal to Thomas Broich, as he is no doubt one of the best players in the competition on his day. As his long-distance goal on the weekend shows, he doesn't mind getting involved in the attack and winding up from well outside the box, and his team often thanks him for it.

Bas van den Brink - Another product of the Netherlands, this former Gold Coast foundation player has formed a rock-solid combination with Steve Pantelidis at the back for the Glory. As his strike on the weekend showed as well, he is not just a simple shut-down player.

Under Miron Bleiberg on the tourist strip, van den Brink was used as a midfielder and showed off with his passing and attacking sense that there is more to his game than just ending opposition attacks - which means there are more than a few parallels with his countryman Zwaanswijk.

At the end of the day… History is against Perth in this one. Having never won a game at Bluetongue Stadium, there is a hoodoo they must break. Then again, records are made to be broken - and it might be a little easier to do then the record books suggest, according to former Mariners shotstopper Danny Vukovic.

Now No.1 for the Glory, he knows what it's like in Gosford and told reporters: "I wouldn't say it-s a tough place to play because the crowds they get aren't huge and they're not a very vocal crowd. There are a lot more daunting places to play."

That could be the spice this game needed. You can bet after Vukovic's comments, Graham Arnold's men will be determined to prove that their home ground truly is a fortress.

Not only that, but they will want emphasize the fact that their superior record against the Glory is so for a reason, and ensure that it is them who travel to Suncorp Stadium to face the all-conquering Roar.

While the men in purple have done wonderfully well to get so far, this battle-hardened Central Coast side should have enough about them to palm off Perth's challenge and progress to the Grand Final.