Mariners clash to shape rest of season for Western United


By Lance Jenkinson

Western United will be without playmaker Panagiotis Kone for its crucial A-League encounter with Central Coast Mariners at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday.

Kone was a first half substitute in last Friday night’s 2-0 loss to Wellington Phoenix after suffering an arm injury.

Scans later revealed the 32-year-old had broken a bone in his wrist.

The former Greece international will be out indefinitely.

“He had an operation, he’s got a plate inserted, so he’s out,” United coach Mark Rudan said on Friday.

Rudan has described the game against the Mariners as “must win” if Western United is to make a late run for the finals.

United is five points out of the top six and have just one win and a draw since the start of the new year.

Rudan is calling for an across-the-board lift from his players after claiming just one point and going goal-less in February.

“They’re [the Mariners] on the back of six losses, our form isn’t the best results wise,” he said.

“Our performances have to be better. We haven’t scored for a number of games as well.

“Just in general, we need to be better.”

Despite the recent patch of poor results, Rudan said Western United will head into the clash with Central Coast with confidence.

United’s last win came against the bottom-of-the-ladder Mariners in January.

Rudan has seen a positive response from his players following the loss in Wellington last round.

“The attitude and the energy this week has been great,” he said.

“The players are driving it.”

Criticism that has come the way of Western United since the downturn in form is water off a duck’s back for Rudan.

However, he did concede that it can get to some of the players, so he tries his best to shield them.

Rudan is calling on coaches, players and fans to show a united front during the tough times.

“The greater the challenge, the more people that say no, the more people that throw stones at us, the more people that have negative words to say, the greater the reward, the bigger the challenge, the more I take that challenge on,” he said.

“I personally love it.

“That’s something that we as an organisation, as a club, we’re strong in numbers.

“If we stay unified through these bad times, we’ll see the light and it will be more rewarding.

Western United’s last Geelong home game of the season on Sunday will kick off at 4pm.