LAST HURRAH: Hoping to end on a high, Central Coast captain John Hutchinson will retire at the end of the season.
LAST HURRAH: Hoping to end on a high, Central Coast captain John Hutchinson will retire at the end of the season. Tony Federgetty IMAGES

Skipper to get down and dirty

CENTRAL Coast Mariners captain John Hutchinson has played 10 years in the A-League, so he knows when he has a big fight on his hands.

And that moment has arrived for his club.

The Mariners sit in eighth place on the ladder with just two wins so far this season.

To say tonight's match at Central Coast Stadium against Adelaide United is of must-win proportions is an understatement.

The hosts will be desperate to bounce back to form after being thrashed 5-1 against Sydney FC last round, in front of their home fans.

"Sometimes in life you've just got to roll up your sleeves and get dirty," Hutchinson told APN. "Even if it means winning ugly, we've got to start doing that.

"We've always had a proud record in front of our home fans and we've let that slip this season.

"People think we've taken a few steps back after our loss to Sydney FC, and that was because we gave the ball away too easily and too often."

Hutchinson said there had been an increased focus on going back to the basics at training this week.

"Defensively, we've got to do our jobs better against Adelaide. We lost too many one-on-one situations against Sydney," he said.

Doing the basics right is the least Hutchinson's teammates can do for their inspirational skipper.

The 35-year-old will retire at the end of this season as one of the few A-League foundation-season players still going around.

"It was always going to be a tough decision. Before I spoke to the boys about it, the lump in my throat grew even bigger," he said.

"But the club is in good hands with great leaders around like Matt Simon and Nick Montgomery."

The future of the Mariners was also bolstered by news this week the club had formed a partnership with Everton in the English Premier League.

The agreement will work both ways. Everton is hoping to use the A-League as a way for its under-21 development players to benefit from the chance of playing first-team football.

"The Mariners will grow from this - it's a significant opportunity for some of our young players to hopefully play for Everton," Hutchinson said.

The second-placed Reds will be bolstered by the return of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic from Socceroos duty, and new signing Miguel Palanca, who has represented Spanish powerhouse club Real Madrid.

GAME DAY

MARINERS V REDS

Central Coast Stadium, 4pm

Also: Victory v City 6.30pm, Glory v Sky Blues 8.30pm. All times AEST



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