Mariners stay wary of Thompson factor

CENTRAL Coast Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna fears bogey man Archie Thompson has the form to spoil his A-League side’s outstanding defensive record.

The Mariners have conceded just eight goals in 13 matches so far, and only once given up multiple goals.

But McKinna acknowledges it will be a huge challenge to keep that record intact against free-scoring Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium tonight, with striker Thompson the big danger.

He has scored a remarkable nine times in 12 games against the Mariners and McKinna believes the fringe Socceroo is in career-best touch.

“We kept him quiet in the last game, but Archie’s got a great scoring record against us,” McKinna said.

“He’s everywhere, he’s not just a striker, he pops up wide, he drops deep to get the ball, for defenders marking Archie’s a nightmare. Obviously you get Carlos (Hernandez) popping up with goals ... he delivers passes and sets things up as well.

“They’ve got a solid team ... but definitely Archie is the one to watch and to me he’s at the top of his game at the moment.”

Despite losing 2-0 to Mariners in the season-opener at the same venue, Victory coach Ernie Merrick was confident of unlocking the defence.

“We’ve got a couple of new players who didn’t play in the first match, a really exciting player Mate Dugandzic, who’s super quick, he’s scoring goals for us,” Merrick said.

“Archie’s playing his best football he’s ever played and Sutee (Suksomkit) is just blending in really well with our strike force, with service from Carlos, who’s also at the top of his game, so I think there’ll be goals in it.”

  • The Jets’ confidence is at a low after the thrashing in Wellington left them in bottom spot.

Bouncing back at Energy Stadium tomorrow will be no easy task, particularly with the Fury’s form having steadily built as its debut season progresses. Coming back from three straight losses, Fury has just one defeat since and had their first back-to-back wins in the past two rounds.

Star signing Robbie Fowler is proving his worth, with three goals in those two games, to give him eight for the season.

Jets’ hope is the return of playmaker Fabio Vignaroli from a calf injury which stopped him from making the trip to Wellington.

  • Gold Coast started its inaugural season in a blaze of glory, while Sydney steadily established itself as a competition benchmark.

But the gloss has dropped off the Gold Coast, thanks to the short-lived and unpopular decision to cap home crowds, coinciding with some dismal form, eight goals conceded in their past two games.

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