It’s the time of the year when clubs look towards the second half of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our mid-season report cards?

Semester Summary: Central Coast Mariners entered the 2017/18 A-League campaign without their top goal scorer Roy O’Donovan who departed for bitter rivals Newcastle Jets during the off-season. Mariners coach Paul Okon secured the signing of Spanish striker Asdrubal with the former Las Palmas front man arriving as a like for like replacement for O’Donovan.

However, having passed the halfway point this campaign, Central Coast are the equal lowest scorers in the league alongside Brisbane Roar with 16 goals from 16 matches. Their poor form in front of goal is partly due to the performances of their Spanish striker. The 26-year-old has managed just two goals from his 11 appearances in the Yellow and Navy.

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Paul Okon’s men had a slow start to the 17/18 campaign and had to wait until round six for their first victory when they upset league champions Sydney FC 2-0. Impressive performances against Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory saw the club climb into the top six in early December but a poor run of results has seen the club drop to eighth, winless in their last seven A-League fixtures.

Okon would be pleased by his side’s defensive record. They have the fifth best defence in the league, having only conceded 22 goals this campaign.

The formidable partnership of club captain Alan Baro and Antony Golec in the heart of defence has been instrumental to their impressive defensive record while shot stopper Ben Kennedy is in career best form having recorded four clean sheets from his 12 matches between the sticks.

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Areas of Excellence: The most significant improvement across the park has come in midfield with Dutch duo Tom Hiariej and Wout Brama providing defensive stability for their side which has allowed Mariners’ playmaker Daniel De Silva to flourish in the attacking midfield role.

Hiariej and Brama have controlled the centre of the park for their side with their impressive distribution and ability to govern the pace of matches and dictate how they transition between defence and attack.

Jake McGing and Andrew Hoole have also proved a handful on the right-hand side with the duo causing all sorts of issues for opposition defences with their attacking displays.

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Areas in need of improvement: The Mariners need to make the most of their possession from their A-League encounters. They play with an emphasis on passing style and tend to dominate possession however this has not resulted in goals.

Okon’s style of play has led to a string of errors and it is clear to see that they still have work to do on the training pitch before it is implemented correctly on game day. Their surprise victory over Sydney showed what they can achieve however their more recent performance against Newcastle Jets demonstrated that possession does not necessarily translate into goals as they fell to a 2-0 defeat albeit with 10 men for the final 20 minutes.

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Top Students: As a team, each player has improved dramatically but standout players like Kennedy, Golec, Hiariej and De Silva deserve a special mention. The latter returned to the A-League with plenty of expectation after a failed stint in Europe and has taken no time in rebuilding his reputation under Okon.

The 20-year-old midfielder has added another dimension to his side in the attacking third with his skillful control and his ability to breakdown the opposition has earned plaudits from across the league.

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Golec deserves more recognition for his consistent performances alongside Baro in defence. The 27-year-old’s performances suggest that he has finally found stability with the Central Coast, his fifth A-League club in his career to date.

Class Clown: Asdrubal – the striker who arrived with plenty of expectation but has so far failed to impress. The Spaniard’s execution in the final third has been below par and the Mariners have not been able to rely on their marquee signing when it comes to adding the finishing touch in front of goal.

Grade: B

Outlook: The Mariners are fast becoming one of the more attractive teams to watch with their lightning quick attacking mentality. Results may not have gone their way this season but judging by their work on the field they are not too far away from challenging at the top end of the table. A finish in the top six is still within reach with a free-falling Perth side sitting above them in seventh while a string of positive results will put pressure on sixth placed Western Sydney Wanderers.

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Studying Journalism at UTS. Obsessed with football and a die hard supporter of Sydney FC and Liverpool FC in the EPL