Preview: Gold Coast United v Newcastle Jets

This is already must-win territory for Gold Coast. These two sides have established a neat little rivalry despite having played just seven games against each other.

Date: Sunday, 30 October 2011 Kick-off: 5.00pm AEDT, 4.00pm local Venue: Skilled Park

Head-to-head Played 7: Wins: Gold Coast 3, Newcastle 3, Draws: 1

Previous encounter Gold Coast 5, Newcastle 1, 22 January 2011

History: These two sides have established a neat little rivalry despite having played just seven games against each other.

Newcastle have previously delivered Gold Coast two of their most unwanted defeats. The first was United's first ever loss in Week 5 of their inaugural campaign - you know, the one they were boasting about going undefeated in.

The second was in the final series of that same season, when the Jets tumbled Miron Bleiberg's men out of the race for the toilet seat. The last time they met was in front of Gold Coast's biggest ever home crowd - thanks to Clive Palmer throwing the gates open as part of a flood relief gesture - and it was one of their biggest ever wins.

Hat-trick hero Bruce Djite was instrumental as United tossed aside a young and undermanned Jets outfit with a 5-1 drubbing.


Past five matches: Gold Coast: DDL Newcastle: WLW

Summary of form: United are coming off a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of arch-rivals Brisbane, but that scoreline masked just how well they played for at least the first half.

For the first time in a long time, the Roar weren't allowed to play on their terms as Miron Bleiberg's high-pressing gameplan made them look second-rate - but not for long.

Inevitably, Gold Coast ran out of puff and the reigning champions ran over the top of them, leaving them winless after their first three games.

On the other hand, Newcastle will be buoyant after last week toppling their own nemesis, Central Coast, for the first time since 2009. That was their second win so far this term - not a bad start for a side who had both their coach and marquee star sacked days before their first game.

Match Committee: Both sides have a number of availability concerns. For United, first-choice stopper Ante Rozic is out with a knee injury, while young utility Joshua Brillante is away on international duty.

Fortunately, Dylan McGowan has been cleared of any major damage in his knee after a knock against Brisbane and should be right to play. The Jets will be without defender Tiago Calvano (hamstring), while returning striker Francis Jeffers won't be considered as his international clearance is yet to come through.

Danger men:

Maceo Rigters - The Dutchman was super impressive on debut last week against Brisbane. Built like a battering ram but blessed with skill and technique, the former Blackburn Rovers marksman made the Roar's watertight back four look pedestrian on a number of occasions and it looks like he could be that x-factor United are missing up front.

Though he is lacking in match fitness, if he can engineer the same chances early against the Jets then his side will go a long way towards finding that elusive first win.

Jeremy Brockie - Scored the winner against the Mariners last weekend and was unlucky not to have scored more. The 25-year-old New Zealand international is in scintillating touch at the moment and looks to be finally finding his feet after years of promise.

Brockie's combination on the right with Tarek Elrich could spell trouble for United, with their left-back Adama Traore known for his penetrative runs - meaning there could be space for the Kiwi to exploit on Sunday.

At the end of the day… This is already must-win territory for Gold Coast. As dominant as they were against Wellington, as unfortunate as they were against Central Coast and as good as their first half was against Brisbane, they only have two points to show for their first three games and cannot afford to drop more points at home.

Ordinarily, they would expect three points from a visit from Newcastle, but the Hunter club have surprised many with their magnificent start to the season.

The Jets put their poor effort against the Phoenix behind them by toppling the Mariners last week, and as a result confidence is high. Things have been firing up front with Brockie, Ryan Griffiths and Labinot Haliti all in good nick.

In midfield, veteran Kasey Wehrman, wonderkid Ben Kantarovski and the enigmatic Ruben Zadkovich have proven already that together, they can control a game.

Six points in three games is not a bad start for a side that had such a tumultuous pre-season and the worst possible build-up to their first match in the form of Culinagate.

With Gary van Egmond this week sliding into the hot seat, Sunday looms as a great opportunity for the Jets earn some all-important road points. Of course, standing in their way are Gold Coast, who are always tough to beat at Skilled Park and this week, they're determined to notch their first win. One side is confident, the other side is desperate - this one has draw written all over it.