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Central Coast up for ALM ‘benchmark’ team

Central Coast will welcome a tough clash with A-League Men “benchmark” Melbourne City as they attempt to make the most of an extended stint on the road.

The Mariners have stayed in Melbourne as they handle a tight turnaround from Saturday’s last-minute 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory, to facing City at AAMI Park on Tuesday.

“It’s given us a bit of an opportunity to debrief here, obviously recover and go through the review of the game as well as starting to prepare against Melbourne City tomorrow night,” coach Nick Montgomery said.

“It’s been good for the boys to be together and a little bit of time together, which we’ve not had because we’ve not had many away trips up until now.

“So yeah, it’s been been a good opportunity for the boys to really bond.

Montgomery played down concerns over Central Coast conceding beyond the 90-minute mark in three consecutive games, and was wary of second-placed City.

“They’re the form team in the comp, they’re the benchmark team of the competition. For me they’re the best team in the competition,” Montgomery said.

“Probably the strongest squad, they’ve got some some top players especially in that final third and off the bench as well, they’ve got quality.

“That’s why you expect from from a club like Melbourne City.”

The Mariners lost to City 3-1 just under a month ago but Montgomery noted their squad had just been hit by COVID-19, while this time around, he expected to field his strongest team of the season.

“We’re aware of them, we know they’re a quality team and we know they’re aggressive and they’ve got a strong squad,” he said.

“But we go into every game full of confidence and looking forward to getting a result, so that will stay the same.”

After Tuesday night’s match, the Mariners are likely to further extend their road trip by travelling directly from Melbourne to Adelaide to prepare for Saturday’s clash with United, rather than heading home.

“Originally, we’d look to move the game a couple of days later, but because there’s a special Pride weekend and game this weekend, that obviously can’t happen,” Montgomery said.

“So we’re just looking at the logistics now and we’ll probably make a decision on that today.

“So I’m probably confident that we will fly straight from here to Adelaide and prepare as well as we can for that game on Saturday.”

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