Saturday's F3 derby is a chance for Central Coast to celebrate with their fans after securing an A-League Men finals berth but Mariners coach Nick Montgomery is only too aware Newcastle are out to spoil the party.
A 2-0 win over Brisbane on Tuesday locked in the Mariners' top-six place, giving the Gosford-based club finals football for the second consecutive season.
While the ninth-placed Jets are out of the running for a finals berth, Montgomery is expecting an opponent full of motivation at Central Coast Stadium.
The Jets were on the end of a 4-2 loss the last time these two teams met, in a fiery derby which featured a controversial disallowed goal for the Jets, an injury-time red card for Daniel Penha and a scuffle between the two teams' benches.
"They'll be looking at coming and spoiling the party," Montgomery said.
"No doubt they'll be fireworks.
"People are talking about the last derby as the best game of the season.
"It's obviously nice to know we're in the finals but we're fighting for a possible fourth position so we'll approach the game as usual."
If the Mariners can emerge victorious it will add another achievement to Montgomery's first season as head coach.
Their win over the Roar was the first time they've ever won back-to-back matches against Brisbane and the first time in eight seasons they'd won a league game in the Queensland capital.
A third win of the season over the Jets would be the first time the Mariners have had a clean sweep in the F3 derby in a single campaign.
Newcastle are boosted by the return of Penha from suspension while Olivier Boumal and Matt Jurman are also both in the mix to return from injury.
The Mariners however will be without the suspended Jacob Farrell while defender Dan Hall is touch-and-go after limping off late against the Roar with a knee injury.
"Dan, he's desperate to play but we'll have a look, we won't take a risk with anyone that's struggling," Montgomery said.
"Fortunately it looks like there's nothing too sinister."
Australian Associated Press
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