Irish playmaker Wes Hoolahan made his first appearance in Newcastle Jets colours in the Hyundai A-League club’s pre-season friendly against Hamilton Olympic on Thursday night.
In their last hit-out before next week’s FFA Cup 2019 Round of 16 clash with Edgeworth Eagles, the Jets put in a strong display to win 2-0 at Darling Street Oval.
Young defender Johnny Koutroumbis opened the scoring on 25 minutes with a piercing low drive from outside the box which went through a sea of legs before finding the bottom corner.
On his first start for the Jets, Panamanian striker Abdiel Arroyo doubled the lead a minute later, slotting it home after a pinpoint cross from Jason Hoffman.
While there were no more goals after the break for the Jets, there was a lot of pleasing signs for coach Ernie Merrick, including the performance of Hoolahan who featured for just under an hour.
“Our key players, our 14 or 15 starting-type players that we have, I wanted them all to have a good run, especially in that first half,” Merrick told the Jets’ official website.
“We worked on our game-plan, we knew how the other team were going to play but that wasn’t of any concern, it was about making sure we compress the middle third when we didn’t have the ball and they were playing out and winning the ball in the middle third through pressing.
“When we get to a reset position, pressing to win the ball, and then playing forward from there. Not always counter-attacking but trying to get forward reasonably quickly and the boys did it extremely well. I’m very happy with it."
The Jets make the short trip to Jack McLaughlin Oval on Wednesday night for the hugely-anticipated FFA Cup 2019 Round of 16 clash against fellow Hunter outfit Edgeworth.
The Hyundai A-League outfit have never advanced past the Round of 16 stage in this competition, with the clash against the NPL side their best opportunity yet to reach the last eight.
The clash against Edgeworth kicks off at 7.30pm (AEST) and can be seen LIVE on Fox Sports.