Merrick praises performance on the road

Newcastle Jets manager Ernie Merrick says he’s more than happy to leave Coopers Stadium with a point after his side drew with Adelaide United 1-1 on Friday night.

Jets striker Ronny Vargas put the away side in front early in the second half before a stunning header from Craig Goodwin drew the hosts level 10 minutes later.

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Merrick said he was satisfied at the full-time whistle.

“I was impressed with the whole team,” he said.

“We competed for 90 minutes and Hindmarsh is not an easy place to come and play good quality football and come away with much more.

“I think the last time we were here we lost 5-2 so I was happy all round.”

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The Scotsman was quick to point out the influence of new recruit Jair, praising the Brazilian’s contribution on and off the ball.

“I thought he had a really good game,” Merrick said.

 “He’s only had about three or four weeks pre-season with us and he hasn’t played a lot of games.

“He’s progressing really well with us. In the first half he cut inside and had a terrific shot as well and chased back a lot more than he was able to do last week and he lasted longer than what I thought so pretty impressed with him.”

The match was keenly contested and threatened to boil over late on when Newcastle goalkeeper Glen Moss collided with Reds striker George Blackwood when attempting to punch the ball away.

Despite Blackwood being likely to spend some time on the sidelines, Merrick said the contest has hard but fair.

“It was a fair distance from the bench but it looked like three players went for the ball and a few people got worked up, I don’t know why.”

‘He did well the lad [Blackwood] but a bit unfortunate. There was no malice in it at all.”

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Despite being frustrated with the manner in which they conceded, Reds coach Marco Kurz was philosophical after the match.

“I think that when I saw the whole 90 minutes in the first half we were not really comfortable pressing high and we dropped back too much,” Kurz said.

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“In the second half we did it better but the first goal we could clear the ball two times.

“It is too easy and the boys know this.”

With Blackwood out and midfielder Mirko Boland missing the Jets clash entirely, Kurz said fitness was his key concern ahead of Tuesday’s FFA Cup Final 2018.

“The draw is ok but we have some injuries and that it more important than the point.”