Hyundai A-League preview: Jets v Mariners
Two desperate teams, three massive points. Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners will have finals football on their minds when they meet in Sunday’s crucial F3 Derby at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Sunday, 26 February 2017
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-Off: 5:00PM (Local) (5:00PM (AEDT))
Referee: Shaun Evans
Assistant Referee 1: Lance Greenshields
Assistant Referee 2: James Cleal
Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 4.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 1233 ABC Newcastle, ABC Radio Central Coast, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Coast FM 96.3
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #F3Derby
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Newcastle Jets squad: 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 11.Labinot HALITI, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 23.Devante CLUT, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (promoted), 9.Aleksandr KOKKO (promoted), 11.Labinot HALITI (promoted), 13.Ivan VUJICA (promoted), 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT (promoted)
Outs: 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (suspended – 1 match), 10.Wayne BROWN (suspended – 1 match), 18.MA Leilei (suspended – 1 match)
Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (achilles – season), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Blake POWELL, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 6.Blake POWELL (returns from injury), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (returns from suspension)
Unavailable: 10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle – indefinite), (23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)
With both sides suffering defeats last weekend, Newcastle (7th) sit three points behind sixth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers while Central Coast (9th) are five points in arrears of the finals spots.
But with Wanderers travelling to Perth to tackle the in-form Glory on Saturday night, an opportunity to close the gap on the top six could be a real possibility.
It all points to an intense F3 derby.
Newcastle come into this clash on the back of one of their most disappointing performances of the season, a toothless 1-0 loss away to bottom-placed Adelaide United on Friday night.
Mark Jones’ side lacked cohesion at Coopers Stadium and looked devoid of ideas at times, with star wingers Andrew Hoole and Andrew Nabbout rarely sighted.
A short turnaround after their rescheduled fixture against Victory may have contributed to a flat performance but they will have no such concerns this week after a nine-day break.
Meanwhile, after three straight wins catapulted Central Coast into playoff contention, the Mariners were brought crashing back to earth with a disappointing 3-0 loss at home to Victory last weekend.
Victory trio Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas and James Troisi consistently exposed the Mariners and Paul Okon will need to quickly sort out any recurring defensive frailties against the Jets.
The return of skipper Nick Montgomery from suspension is a massive boost for the Yellow and Navy, with the Englishman’s presence and composure sorely missed against Victory.
With a difficult fortnight ahead against City (H) and Sydney FC (A), the Mariners simply must take three points from their journey up the F3.
And in reality, with just seven games to go, Paul Okon’s side are likely going to have to win five matches to give themselves a shot at post-season football.
Is it a bridge too far for the competition’s surprise packets?
The F3 derby may have lost some of its lustre in recent years but their clash in Newcastle earlier this year rekindled the rivalry - and Sunday’s meeting in the Hunter looms as the most crucial for quite some time.
- Newcastle Jets are undefeated in their last six Hyundai A-League games against Central Coast Mariners (W2, D4), keeping two clean sheets.
- The last five Hyundai A-League fixtures between the Jets and Mariners at McDonald Jones Stadium have ended in a draw.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Despite misfiring in front of goal against Adelaide, Newcastle have vastly improved their attacking output in 2016/17 having netted 26 goals in 20 games so far this season.
Compare that to the 28-goal return in 27 games last campaign and its obvious Mark Jones has developed the Jets into a more potent outfit in the front third.
Speedsters Andrew Nabbout (eight goals) and Andrew Hoole (5 goals) have been key for Newcastle this season and will again prove to be main threat for the hosts, especially in transition.
Newcastle have lacked an out-and-out goal-scorer this season with Dane Morten Nordstrand (3 goals) showing glimpses of his class while Finn Aleksandr Kokko has failed to net in nine appearances.
And the Jets’ cause hasn’t been helped with attacking midfielders Wayne Brown and Ma Leilei both ruled out through suspension, along with skipper Nigel Boogaard.
Veteran attacker Labinot Haliti has been named in an extended squad and could feature off the bench, while former Roar playmaker Devante Clut is likely to come into the starting line-up.
For the Mariners, Nick Montgomery’s return will provide stability in the middle of the park and perhaps give wingers Connor Pain and Trent Buhagiar more freedom in attack.
Attacking midfielder Blake Powell has been named to return from injury and will likely come onto the bench, with Okon likely to persist with Fabio Ferreira and Jake McGing in midfield.
Irishman Roy O’Donovan (10 goals) has been one of the shining lights for the Mariners this season with his energy and eye for goal consistently troubling opponents.
But the 31-year-old was largely a peripheral figure last weekend and will be hoping for improved service from wide areas if he is going to trouble a reshuffled Jets back-four.
With the Jets likely to press high and take the game to the visitors, the out-and-out speed of Pain, Buhagiar and Ferreira could prove fruitful if Central Coast can hit swiftly on the break.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Jets’ discipline. In arguably the biggest game of the season, Newcastle will be without captain Nigel Boogaard, creative outlet Wayne Brown and playmaker Ma Leilei through suspension following an accumulation of yellow cards.