Hyundai A-League preview: Jets v Wanderers

The Jets look to put a miserable March behind them when they host a Wanderers side looking to strengthen its grip on a Finals Series spot. Can Newcastle rediscover some form and halt Western Sydney’s march?

MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 1 April 2017

McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Kick-Off: 5:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))

Referee: Shaun Evans

Assistant Referee 1: Ryan Gallagher

Assistant Referee 2: Kearney Robinson

Fourth Official: Ben Abraham

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Hawkesbury Radio

Mateo Poljak says the Jets lacked discipline in their 6-1 loss to Perth Glory.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #NEWvWSW #jmftalent #gamechanger

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

Newcastle Jets squad: 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 10.Wayne BROWN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 18.MALeilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 50.Tomislav ARCABA (gk) **two to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (promoted), 8.Mateo POLJAK (promoted), 16.Nicholas COWBURN (returns from international duty)

Outs: 28.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS (groin – 1-2 weeks)

Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (achilles – season), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season)

Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 8.DIMAS (c), 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 18.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 23.Lachlan SCOTT, 24.Terry ANTONIS, 29.Ryan GRIFFITHS, 49.Abraham MAJOK **two to be omitted**

Ins: 8.DIMAS (c) (returns from personal leave), 29.Ryan GRIFFITHS (promoted), 49.Abraham MAJOK (promoted)

Wanderers skipper Dimas Delgado hopes to stay at the club beyond this season.

Outs: 11.Brendon SANTALAB (suspended – 1 match)

Unavailable: Jacob MELLING (back – indefinite)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

The Jets are in a hole.

After shaping as a genuine Finals Series contender at the end of January, Mark Jones’ men have gone into free-fall, acquiring just two of the last 21 available points.

Their season reached a new low last Sunday when they were mauled 5-0 by an under-strength Phoenix in Wellington, meaning they’ve conceded 12 times in their last three games, while scoring just once themselves, and that from the penalty spot.

Any hope of finals football is now gone, but the Jets will be desperate to finish their season on a high and fend off Adelaide United and Central Coast in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

On the other hand, Western Sydney are one of the competition’s form sides.

The Wanderers celebrate one of Brendon Santalab's two goals against the Phoenix on Sunday.

An unbeaten three-game run, including back-to-back 3-1 home wins, has seen them solidify their top six spot.

A continuation of their current form could even see them make a late charge for the top four, but they’ll need all three points here to keep those hopes alive.

OPTA DATA

· Western Sydney have been shown four red cards when playing away this campaign, more than any other team in the competition.

· Newcastle have scored nine of their 28 goals this season from outside the box, the highest percentage (32%) of any team in the competition.

· The Wanderers are one of just two teams, along with Victory, to have more than one player contributing six assists or more so far this season (Mitch Nichols, 7 and Nicolas Martinez, 6).

Opta Widget: media:opta:9d71c34b-809e-4e80-9b75-27b0e898f31f

ROUTE TO GOAL

The Jets haven’t scored a goal from open play in their last three games and need much more from their strike-force.

Imports Morten Nordstrand and Aleksandr Kokko were given a rare start together against Wellington, but failed to repay Jones’ faith.

Ma Leilei may earn his first start in a month as a result.

Andrew Hoole tries to get away from Corey Brown at Suncorp Stadium.

Newcastle’s two Andrews – Nabbout and Hoole – have shown glimpses of true quality in their respective wide roles this season and on their day can causes serious headaches for any opposition defence.

In fact, Hoole has created more chances than any other player in the competition.

Brendon Santalab has been a revelation for Western Sydney in recent weeks, taking his season tally to 14 goals with a hat-trick against Melbourne City last Friday.

However, in a big blow for Tony Popovic, an eighth yellow card of the season in that game sees Santalab miss the trip to the Hunter Valley.

In his absence, others will need to step up and assume the goalscoring mantle, with Nico Martinez and Mitch Nichols the obvious candidates.

Teenage striker Lachlan Scott may also get another chance to impress.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK

After three braces this season, evergreen Wanderers marksman Brendon Santalab netted his first A-League hat-trick to continue a purple patch of goalscoring form.

FORM LINES (last five games)

Newcastle Jets: LDLLL

Western Sydney Wanderers: WLDWW

PREDICTION

Newcastle Jets 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 2