Sydney FC will be itching to banish their Westfield FFA Cup heartbreak with a strong statement in Newcastle, but are there cracks in the armour the Jets can exploit?
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-Off: 5:00PM (Local) (5:00PM (AEDT))
Referee: Adam Fielding
Assistant Referee 1: Scott Edeling
Assistant Referee 2: Andrej Giev
Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 4.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand, EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #NEWvSYD
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Newcastle Jets squad: 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 10.Wayne BROWN, 11.Labinot HALITI, 12.Andy BRENNAN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 18.MA Leilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 23.Devante CLUT, 26.Iain FYFE, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 30.Pierce CLARK (gk)
**one to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Labinot HALITI (promoted)
Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (achilles – season), 2.Daniel MULLEN (knee – 2-3 weeks), 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (knee – 3-4 weeks), 9.Aleksandr KOKKO (jaw – 3 weeks), 15.Andrew NABBOUT (ankle – 1-2 weeks), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season), 22.Lachlan JACKSON (ankle – 2-3 weeks)
Sydney FC squad: 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Joshua BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Bernie IBINI, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.George BLACKWOOD, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Sebastian RYALL, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 40.Chris OLDFIELD (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Bernie IBINI (promoted), 19.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)
Unavailable: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk) (personal leave – indefinite)
Sydney FC return to McDonald Jones Stadium for the second time this season and coach Graham Arnold will doubtless view the assignment as an opportunity to correct a slight wobble.
Wednesday night’s narrow Westfield FFA Cup Final loss to Melbourne City further hinted at a minor bump in the Sky Blues’ so-far-smooth season, extending their win-less “streak” to three matches across all competitions.
The league leaders still remain four points clear of City atop the Hyundai A-League and will be eager to settle any creeping nerves.
Aiding Sydney’s mission is a superb away record in Newcastle which has reaped 11 victories, four draws and only a single defeat in the past 16 clashes.
The most recent of those was a comfortable 2-0 win in October, when Alex Brosque and Milos Ninkovic combined to inflict the Jets’ first loss of the season.
Newcastle’s form has dipped dramatically since that encounter with a further three defeats seeing the Hunter club slide back to eighth.
Mark Jones can find some comfort in not suffering any enforced outs from last weekend’s squad, a rare occurrence for the Jets who have seven senior players absent through injury.
But, with veteran forward Labinot Haliti the only inclusion to the squad which lost 2-0 to Melbourne Victory last Saturday, Jones will need to coax more out of the troops at his disposal.
More than 11,000 fans have backed the hosts in each of the Jets’ previous two home outings and will be ready to magnify any signs of a potential Sydney slip-up.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Anyone will do for the Jets after a barren run of just two goals in five game.
Only Andrew Nabbout and Moreton Nordstrand hit the scoresheet between rounds four and eight in a spell which yielded a lone point.
Mark Jones continues to explore his options in search of a reliable scorer including a gamble on Andrew Hoole in a central position away to Melbourne Victory, while bulky former South Melbourne man Andy Brennan earned a start on the left wing.
Labinot Hailiti has been named in an extended squad after scoring in the Foxtel National Youth League last weekend and retains plenty of know-how in front of goal should he get a chance.
Plenty will depend on whether Ma Leilei, the ex-Tianjian Teda winger, can settle into Australian football after exhibiting some tidy touches during his 45-minute cameo in Melbourne.
Sydney FC have encountered some minor concerns of their own in the attacking third following a second straight blank in midweek.
Alex Brosque came closest to scoring in the Sky Blues’ defeat to Melbourne City and Graham Arnold may well consider starting the skipper up top in place of Brazilian striker Bobo, who has scored once since round two.
The inclusion of attacking weapon Bernie Ibini could convince Arnold to make a change after the two-time Caltex Socceroo proved his fitness in the Foxtel National Youth League.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Danny Vukovic. The Sydney FC gloveman might have been on the losing side of the Westfield FFA Cup Final but he did earn plaudits for his gentle handling of an injured seagull. More traditional duties are expected this Saturday.
Newcastle Jets: LLLDL
Sydney FC: WWWDD
Newcastle Jets 0-1 Sydney FC