Jets boss blames 'safe' start for Sydney defeat

Newcastle manager Ernie Merrick rued a tentative start as the main cause of his side's 2-1 defeat away to Sydney FC on Saturday night.

The visitors fell behind early for the second straight week but, unlike last round in Adelaide, weren't able to recover.

Merrick hoped the loss would come as "kick up the backside" and prevent a theme from occurring.

"We tried to play what looked like safe football," he said at his post-match press conference.

"I don't know why, I haven't quite worked it out, but away from home the last two weeks now we have played very defensive football. 

"We got away with a poor start against Adelaide but we can't keep doing it.

"I don't think there was any disgrace in the game, I was pretty impressed with the way they turned things around in the second half, but we really did throw it away in the first half."

Jack Duncan
Merrick gave his support to Jack Duncan.

Merrick - who was without Roy O'Donovan through a minor groin complaint - also defended Jack Duncan after the goalkeeper's handling error gifted Sydney a vital second goal.

"I thought Jack had an outstanding game," the former Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix coach said.

"He made a mistake but he really saved some tremendous shots. I think he improved tonight enormously."