Michael McGlinchey moves up the hit chart

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 11/11/2012
Michael McGlinchey
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STEPPING UP: New Zealand's Michael McGlinchey has been selected to face Manchester United in an A-League All-Star game.

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It's A statistical anomaly that Michael McGlinchey is struggling to get his head around as the usually goal-shy creative midfielder suddenly finds himself among the first scoring spree of his professional footballing career.

Admittedly the Central Coast Mariners playmaker has scored only once in the A-League so far this season, but add in an unexpected brace for the All Whites in their Oceania World Cup qualifier against Tahiti last month and McGlinchey might finally have made the long-awaited transformation from provider to finisher.

Two quality strikes from range against the Tahitians in Christchurch boosted his goal tally to three from 20 appearances for the national side, and last weekend against Sydney FC he matched his scoring rate from the two previous A-League campaigns with a left- footed drive after he weaved into the box at Bluetongue Stadium.

McGlinchey may not be celebrating with the regularity of a Robin van Persie, but to be on the competition's goal-scoring chart after just five rounds is a triumph for the Wellington-born and Glasgow-raised 25-year-old.

An automatic choice for club and country, McGlinchey's work ethic and ability to work within a pattern is indisputable, but even he admits frustrations at the paucity of goals on his record.

In his maiden A-League season in 2009-10 he was unable to find the net in 21 games for the Mariners and had to wait until round 22 against the Wellington Phoenix to open his account in 2010-11, despite making 34 appearances.

He was off the mark relatively quickly in 2011-12 against Sydney FC in the seventh round, but that was his lot from a campaign that spanned 30 games.

"I know, I don't know what's going on," McGlinchey laughed when asked to explain his new-found role as goal poacher.

"At the start of every season I say to myself ‘goals are something I need to improve on'. It's all right playing week-in week-out and I've been doing pretty well with assists but you want to be getting the goals as well.

"As an attacking player you sort of get judged on it so to get three goals at the start of the season has obviously done my confidence the world of good . . .

"When a goal streak comes along you try and get as many as you can to try and take a bit of pressure off yourself."

Primarily seen as a conduit to goal for the Mariners' strike force, an adjustment to Graham Arnold's midfield formation offers McGlinchey more scope to venture into the box.

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"I've been pushed a little bit further forward in the diamond so I should be contributing more in the goal department," he said before today's sixth-round clash against the Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

McGlinchey arrived in the capital buoyed by his side's 7-2 rout of Sydney FC, and although Wellington can be a forbidding place for an opposing team, the Mariners won both encounters at the Cake Tin 2-1 last season.

Danny McBreen, who recorded the first hat-trick in the club's history last weekend, and teenager Tom Rogic also take on the Phoenix in a good frame of mind, with the latter also revelling in his first callup to the Socceroos squad after scoring twice against Sydney.

Rogic has already tormented the Phoenix with a superb individual goal in Gosford last season and will be the player to watch when the home side seek to atone for back-to-back losses.

- Sunday Star Times

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