Mariners want some luck against Victory

Daniel Gilhooly
Coach Alen Stajcic has had to contend with some rotten luck at the Mariners this season

Alen Stajcic would never rely on luck to climb out of an A-League rut, but he feels his Central Coast Mariners are due some good fortune when they host Melbourne Victory.

The Mariners haven't had the rub of the green during a run that has seen them pick up just three points from a possible 15 and drop to second-last heading into Sunday's encounter.

By contrast, Victory are chasing a third straight win and will enter the top six for the first time since October if they can notch what would be a fifth successive victory over Central Coast.

Stajcic wryly noted his team were meeting opponents on an upward curve. That had been the case in several other games this season, leaving him to lament the timing of their fixtures.

Lady Luck had also been unkind in a more tangible way.

The Mariners have hit the post or crossbar a league-leading seven times this season, including twice in last week's 2-1 loss to Wellington.

Giancarlo Gallifuoco and Tommy Oar were denied spectacular goals, leaving Stajcic believing the Mariners aren't far off knocking over another big club, as they've done against Perth and Adelaide this season.

"Results haven't always gone our way but I believe we've been pretty close. We've hit the post more than any other team this year and it just shows how close we are to winning and getting some points against some of those teams," Stajcic said.

"The expectation is that we improve week to week. I think we've shown that over the last four weeks that we've competed against the teams coming first, third, fourth and sixth."

Key attacking midfielder Milan Djuric returns from injury this week and there could be a case made for Jordan Murray or Matt Simon to be injected into the forward starting line after both made good bench impacts in Wellington.

However, Stajcic said there would be a sharp focus on defence after Victory flexed their attacking muscle in last week's 4-0 rout of Newcastle.

"Obviously Melbourne Victory's front three or four are among the best in the league. They've got three or four really powerful, electric, clever players who would fit into any team," he said.

Star forward Ola Toivanen has returned from suspension but won't play for the visitors because of a groin strain.

He wasn't missed last week as Robbie Kruse, Elvis Kamsoba and Andrew Nabbout came alive in a fashion that suggests Central Coast will have their hands full trying to end a winless run against Victory that dates back to April 2013.