ANYONE who suggested at the start of the A-League season that this weekend's round 23 encounter between premiers Central Coast and new boys Western Sydney would be a top-of-the-table clash would have been certified.
The Wanderers have won a legion of fans with their efforts that have seen them climb to second on the ladder, just one point behind the Mariners.
One of those fans is Central Coast defender Josh Rose who has been in outstanding form, playing all 22 games this season.
He will line up on Wanderers attacking midfielder Youssouf Hersi, a player Rose holds in very high regard.
"Hersi's one of the top midfielders - he's awesome to watch," the Rockhampton product said.
"I sit and watch him with my five-year-old and I tell him that's the touch you want to have if you want to be a pro.
"He's a great example for up and coming kids because his technique is so good."
Rose said he was thrilled with how the Mariners had covered the loss of Tom Rogic who has transferred to Scottish giants Celtic.
Michael McGlinchey filled the role in the 6-2 win against the Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, scoring his first hat-trick of the season.
"Tom was fantastic and a real x-factor for us, but we've adapted well without him," Rose said.
"(Mariners coach) Graham Arnold really pushes us - we defend with a lot of intensity, but we attack with the same amount of intensity."
Central Coast may be intense on the field, but Rose said the players kept a lid on their celebrations after each victory.
"One of the boys said recently we don't really celebrate our wins that much, and that's because we always expect each other to do the job," he said.
"And I said 'you're right'. We still enjoy a win, but we expect to win each time we go out on the pitch."
That won't be any different against Western Sydney at Gosford on Friday night.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.