Win more important than record: McKenna

December 14, 2006
By by Liam FitzGibbon

Central Coast's in-form defenders can set an A-League record with a clean sheet against Perth Glory on Sunday but Mariners coach Lawrie McKenna is willing to let it slip if it means three competition points.

The Mariners have not conceded a goal in three games and another clean sheet will see them become the first side to achieve four successive shut-outs in the A-League's short history.

But McKenna has warned his side they can't be precious of their defensive record if they are to beat a desperate Glory outfit effectively playing for its season in the match at the Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium.

"The boys have done a great job in the backs in recent weeks," McKenna said.

"But we can't just rely on our backs to keep clean sheets, we have to take chances if we want to win.

"Having said that, it is something we have been doing in recent weeks and I thought we were unlucky not to score (in the 0-0 draw against Sydney) last week.

"The thing about our defending is that it's hasn't been just the back four, we're working hard from the front closing down from the front three all the way back, so the defensive record has been a combination of everything clicking."

The Mariners are on a 10-game unbeaten streak at home and are biting at the heels of the top four, sitting one-point behind Adelaide United.

With five out of their six remaining league games to be played at home, the Mariners' confidence is sky high and McKenna is eyeing off second spot behind the Melbourne Victory in the minor premiership.

But he is aware of the danger posed by a Glory outfit which is only three points behind them.

"When we beat them at home the last round, they were very unlucky not to get a draw and they played us off the park when we played them in Perth," McKenna said.

Coming off a 1-0 loss to the Queensland Roar last weekend, the Glory's top four hopes will be dealt a mighty blow with anything but a win.

Ron Smith's side will be desperate to find the cracks in the Mariners' defence and McKenna believes a number of Glory players are capable of doing so, signalling out midfield Leo Bertos as the main threat.

"I think Bertos has probably been their most exciting player all season ... he's the boy who's got that flair and can do that magic for them," McKenna said.

The Glory will be boosted by the return of veteran winger Stan Lazaridis for the clash but an injury cloud is hanging over midfielder Simon Colosimo.

The Mariners welcome back midfielder Jamie McMaster to the squad after serving a one-match ban, while Socceroos defender Tony Vidmar is recovering well from a calf strain which forced him for the field in the first half last weekend against Sydney.

Former Glory players Andre Gumprecht, Tom Pondeljak and Nik Mrdja will line up against their old club.