Adelaide coach John Kosmina wants his side to forget about the A-League table ahead of Friday’s blockbuster clash with leaders Central Coast.
The Mariners host the Reds at Bluetongue Stadium holding a three-point advantage over their second-placed opponents.
Adelaide had the chance to jump into equal first last week after the Mariners dropped points at home in a 0-0 draw with the Newcastle Jets.
However United lost 2-0 to an impressive Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
With 10 matches remaining and the likes of fellow top-four sides Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney nipping at their heels, Kosmina said the Reds could not afford to switch off at the business end of the season given their position.
“What we’ve got to actually focus on is just this game and forget about the table,” Kosmina said.
“If you start looking at the table you create pressure for yourself. This is game by game time.
“There are 10 matches left and every one is a pressure match. The more you win the better chance you have of finishing up the ladder.
“We put ourselves in a pressure situation last week. No loss is really a good loss but last week (Melbourne Heart) was a bad loss because we could have been level pegging with the Coast.
“It was a game we didn’t need to lose and the pressure is on this week now – we’ve made it difficult for ourselves.”
Adelaide has faced Central Coast just once this season where they surrendered an early lead in Gosford to lose 2-1.
While the Reds enter the match on the back of a loss, the Mariners have struggled with form in recent weeks.
The reigning minor premiers have won just twice in their past six matches.
Regardless of form, Kosmina said he still expects a tight battle with Graham Arnold’s men.
“They are hard at home and they’re hard away from home as well,” Kosmina said.
“They’ve got a tone of experience. You look at John Hutchinson, Nick Montgomery, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Daniel McBreen, Josh Rose, Pedj Bojic … they’re all guys in the 2-300 career games bracket.
“They are a very difficult team to break down. They drop off and stay compact.
“They don’t play a pressing game at all, so we have to be patient, really comfortable and move the ball really quickly to try and penetrate in the right areas.
Adelaide have made two changes to the side that was defeated by the Heart.
Defender Nigel Boogaard will step in for Iain Fyfe who is being rested while Argentine maestro Marcelo Carrusca returns to the bench from injury to sit alongside veteran stopper Jon McKain and talented midfielder Jake Barker-Daish.
Despite high hopes for an early return from a groin injury, striker Bruce Djite won’t be available until the February 8 home clash with rivals Melbourne Victory.