Mariners wary of hungry Wolves

Nick Montgomery wins the ball from Young Socceroos player Brandon Borrello while playing for the A-League All-Stars at WIN Stadium earlier this month. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Nick Montgomery wins the ball from Young Socceroos player Brandon Borrello while playing for the A-League All-Stars at WIN Stadium earlier this month. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

FOOTBALL

Mariners midfielder Nick Montgomery knows more than most the threat posed by a lower-league club in the Cup, having nearly fulfilled his own FA Cup fairytale in 2003.

The English-born Scottish veteran helped guide then First Division club Sheffield United to a memorable semi-final appearance against Arsenal in front of nearly 60,000 fans at Old Trafford.

While his Blades were unable to overcome the Premier League giants in a 1-0 defeat, Montgomery got his taste of the giant-killing nature of the Cup.

And on Wednesday he'll experience life from the other side when the Central Coast Mariners play the South Coast Wolves in the FFA Cup round of 32 at WIN Stadium.

"For me, these are the games that are tough but as an A-League team we have to go there and give it our best shot. It is not going to be easy," Montgomery said while in town with the A-League All-Stars.

"It should time well for when we start playing match football and it is a competitive game, so I think it is fantastic to be able to get a game in like it before the season starts."

While the fixture is likely to be a key cog in the Mariners' early-season preparations, for the Wolves it shapes as the biggest game the club has played since the demise of the NSL.

Like many other second tier clubs, the FFA Cup gives the South Coast a chance to make a name for themselves again on the national stage.

"It is brilliant. I think the last two years it has been missing a competition like this," Montgomery said.

"I have been lucky to have played in an FA Cup semi-final in England and numerous FA Cup games.

"The top teams playing the lower league teams is a brilliant occasion, especially for the lower league teams like in Wollongong.

"They will have plenty of fans coming to the game, expectation and a chance for some of those players to potentially play on TV for the first time and give a good account for themselves. They are always tough games and I think every A-League team is going to find out just how tough that is."

The Mariners' A-League rivals, Western Sydney, have already learnt that lesson the hard way after they lost to National Premier League South Australian outfit Adelaide City last week.

Central Coast will be eager not to make the same mistake.

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