National Youth League - Week 18 Preview

It will take a miracle to deny the Central Coast Mariners a maiden National Youth League crown, but Tony Walmsley's men can put the title race to bed by collecting at least a point in their clash with Sydney FC.

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC Pluim Park, Friday 5pm

It will take a miracle to deny the Central Coast Mariners a maiden National Youth League crown, but Tony Walmsley's men can put the title race to bed by collecting at least a point in their clash with Sydney FC.

Unbeaten in their last eight matches, the Mariners are three points clear at the top and hold a 19-goal better goal difference than second-placed Perth Glory.

Glory's 4-2 loss to the Brisbane Roar on Sunday all but ended their hopes of claiming top spot.

The Mariners have lost just once at home this campaign, and face a Sky Blues outfit struggling late in the season.

Mitchell Duke (nine goals), Justin Hayward and Kwabena Appiah-Kubi (six each) have been the stars in attack for the Mariners, who have conceded just 16 goals in 17 matches.

Sydney are again likely to be without their two stars - Mitchell Mallia and Joel Chianese - with the pair continuing to make an impact with the senior side.

Mallia (14 goals) will win the Golden Boot unless Melbourne Heart's Zac Walker nets a hat-trick, but his team will miss him as the Mariners look to wrap up a deserved title.

Gold Coast United v Brisbane Roar Owen Park, Friday 4pm

Brisbane Roar's late season form run could see them clinch second spot as they visit Gold Coast United.

Roar have won three straight games ahead of their trip to Owen Park, where an inconsistent Gold Coast - the reigning champions - await, just days after Football Federation Australia revoked owner Clive Palmer's licence.

What kind of side - if any - Gold Coast put out on the park after the mid-week troubles remains to be seen.

Matthew Thurtell and George Lambadaridis have impressed for the Roar in the absence of Nick Fitzgerald, who is taking his opportunities with the senior side.

Gold Coast United have been strong at home, but they have a big task if they are to stop a rampant Roar.

AIS v Adelaide United AIS Athletics Track, Saturday 2pm

Both Adelaide United and the AIS enter this clash having recorded surprise wins last time out.

While the Reds surprised the Newcastle Jets, AIS shocked Sydney FC in the biggest upset of week 17.

The AIS are almost certain to avoid bottom after the win over the Sky Blues, and can finish the season on a high with a win over Adelaide.

Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory Kingston Heath, Sunday 11am

Perth Glory need something special to win the title, and their chances of finishing on top could be over when they meet the Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

If their chances remain alive, Glory are likely to need to win this encounter by a huge margin to clinch the league title.

Victory have continued to improve after a disastrous first half of the campaign, but they are likely to finish bottom.

Ndumba Makeche has starred up front for Glory, and he will need to be in form with his side likely to be playing for second spot.

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Heart Adamstown Oval, Sunday 4.30pm

Both the Newcastle Jets and the Melbourne Heart have little to play for in this encounter.

However, Heart forward Zac Walker remains a chance to win the Golden Boot with Mitchell Mallia likely to be in Sydney's senior side.

Walker, used off the bench throughout the campaign, has netted 11 goals - three less than Mallia - and could remarkably top the goalscoring charts with a hat-trick.

The Jets suffered a loss to Adelaide last time out as their struggles at home continued, with improvement at Adamstown Oval needed if they are to beat the Heart.