CENTRAL Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson insists his team will push hard for the opening goal and further dent Perth Glory's fragile confidence when the two sides meet on Saturday in Sydney.
Wilkinson admits the club's rusty 2-0 defeat against Brisbane last week was the Mariners worst performance of the season.
After nearly three weeks without a match the Mariners failed to reproduce the form which had seen them surprise many during the early rounds.
Wilkinson is adamant Mariners fans will witness a more assured performance at both ends of the field against Perth at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
It is a crucial match for the Mariners, who have played only two matches in a frustrating month of inactivity.
"The performance against Brisbane wasn't good enough, we all know that," Wilkinson said.
"It was a bad day at the office and we need to improve."
Despite last week's loss the Mariners are still sitting in a good position, while Perth is having a horror run.
Wilkinson expects Perth coach Ian Ferguson, who spent several seasons as Lawrie McKinna's assistant at the Mariners, to have the team fired up for a big performance.
"They'll be a little down on confidence so the first goal is crucial," Wilkinson said.
"If we can pinch an early goal it'll give us a huge lift and make things pretty tough for them."
Wilkinson is again looking forward to the prospect of marking Perth superstar Robbie Fowler.
"I've played him a few times and love the challenge," Wilkinson said.
"He has done so much in the game and still has a lot to give the A-League. Around the 18 yard box he is very dangerous."
Meanwhile, Mariners striker Adam Kwasnik could come off the bench against Perth after missing the Brisbane match with a stomach illness.
The club is also hopeful attacking midfielder Patricio Perez will return from an ongoing hamstring injury.