Beware our strike force, say Mariners - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Beware our strike force, say Mariners

By Michael Cox 20/02/2008 06:12:18 PM Comments (0)

Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna isn't losing sleep over Joel Griffiths - but he believes Newcastle counterpart Gary van Egmond may still have a few restless nights ahead of the A-League grand final.

While the Mariners are confident they have the plan to shut down Newcastle's goal-hungry striker Griffiths on Sunday, McKinna believes the Jets should be worried about finding a way to stop his strike duo of John Aloisi and Sasho Petrovski.

With 15 goals between them this season, Aloisi and Petrovski have formed arguably the most potent attack force in the competition.

And with Petrovski returning to form in a big way with his match-winning double in the second leg of the major semi-final, McKinna was keen to plant a seed of doubt in his rival's mind as the battle of words continued on the road to the Sydney Football Stadium.

"For this game, maybe they should look at trying to stop us - rather than us stopping them," McKinna said.

"Gary might need to look at how to stop John Aloisi and Sasho.

"Sash just loves the big games and he proved that last week.

"From the very beginning, he looked like he was going to pop up and score something (and) John's been unlucky in the last two games so I'm sure, in the last game of the season, he would love to show people just how good a goal-scorer he really is."

Griffiths is favourite for the player of the year award after a standout season with the Jets, netting 14 goals - including a crucial penalty in last week's gutsy 3-2 win over Queensland in the preliminary final.

But the dynamic striker was not a factor in the second-leg of the major semi-final - won 3-0 by the Mariners.

The pressure applied by the Mariners on the Newcastle midfielders meant few opportunities for Griffiths, and it is a strategy the Central Coast are keen to employ again on Sunday.

"Joel's always going to be busy and he's going to be dangerous," McKinna said.

"He's so quick and he's aggressive and chucks himself into things and he's always going to cause problems, you can't afford to give him any time or any space.

"We just have to try and put pressure on the guy delivering him the ball so that he can't get that perfect through ball - so we'll try and limit the supply to Joel.

"It's trying to keep it tight, they're a very good attacking team and their movement is really good, so we have to try and confine the space they've got to move in."

Griffiths was also hampered by a leg injury during the teams' last meeting in Gosford.

But even with the striker back to full fitness, Central Coast captain Alex Wilkinson was confident his side could quell his attacking brilliance by limiting his supply.

"We have to watch him, he's quiet quick," Wilkinson said.

"They look to play him in behind a lot, so myself and Viddy (Tony Vidmar) just have to be careful not to play up the park too much and give him enough room in behind.

Central Coast midfielder Tom Pondeljak (inflamed knee) remains the only injury concern for both teams, with the 32-year-old again not training on Wednesday.

The Mariners are hoping he will be right to resume training on Friday with all players to be given the day off on Thursday.

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