Preview: Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

Newcastle is fast running out of time to salvage something from the 2008-09 season. The Jets' dominance over the Roar at Suncorp Stadium was finally broken last weekend and in the past five games they've managed to collect just two points.

Date: Friday December 19 Kick-off: 8pm local (AEST) Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is 1233 ABC Newcastle and SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM. To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au

Head-to-head Past 11 Hyundai A-League meetings: Newcastle - 6 wins, Melbourne Victory - 3 wins, Draws - 2.

Previous meeting Newcastle Jets 1, Melbourne Victory 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 8, October 2008

Past Five Games

Newcastle Jets

Round 11: Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 2, Members Equity Stadium

Round 12: Wellington Phoenix 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Westpac Stadium

Round 13: Newcastle Jets 1, Adelaide United 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Round 14: Newcastle Jets 1, Sydney FC 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium

Round 15: Queensland Roar 2, Newcastle Jets 1, Suncorp Stadium

Melbourne Victory

Round 10: Adelaide United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium

Round 11: Queensland Roar 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Suncorp Stadium

Round 12: Melbourne Victory 2, Central Coast Mariners 1, Telstra Dome

Round 13: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Westpac Stadium

Round 14: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium

Analysis

Newcastle is fast running out of time to salvage something from the 2008-09 season. The Jets' dominance over the Roar at Suncorp Stadium was finally broken last weekend and in the past five games they've managed to collect just two points.

Adding to their woes is the loss of striker Jason Naidovski who looks set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

It's been a dramatic fall from grace for Newcastle and it's hard to see how the players are going to turn it around.

Coach Gary Van Egmond says his team has developed a habit of scoring the opening goal of the contest only to go back into their shell in a hope of protecting the lead. He wants them to attack and play with confidence for the full 90 minutes.

A positive mindset will be needed if they are to get anywhere near the Melbourne Victory at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday.

It's a massive challenge but the Victory is one of the few teams the Jets have beaten this season - a 1-0 result back in Round 8.

They also have Joel Griffiths firing on all cylinders with the key player maker scoring in last week's loss to the Roar.

Melbourne will enter this contest overwhelming favourites despite taking average form into it. They lost to Wellington Phoenix in Round 13, Perth Glory in Round 14 and did not play last weekend because its designated opponent Adelaide was in Japan.

The break has allowed the teams below the Victory on the ladder to sneak closer and if they dropped another game to a bottom four side then they'd really be under pressure.

Ernie Merrick's boys have spent plenty of time on the road - four of their last five games have been away - but they should be feeling refreshed and confident of reclaiming top spot on the A-League ladder.

Evan Berger is back from a hamstring injury, Carlos Hernandez is poised for more game time as he continues his comeback from a quad problem while Archie Thompson is also keen to start the game after missing the team's last clash.

Midfielder Grant Brebner will be keen to fire up too after securing a one-year deal with the Victorian side earlier this week.

The EnergyAustralia Stadium game is the last road trip for a while and Melbourne will be keen to head back to the Telstra Dome in winning form.

The Victory to inflict more pain on the Jets with a 2-0 win.

Newcastle Jets Squad. 1.Ante COVIC (gk), 2.Adam GRIFFITHS, 3.Jade NORTH (c), 7.Kaz PATAFTA, 8.Matt THOMPSON, 9.Joel GRIFFITHS, 10.Jin-Hyung SONG, 11.Tarek ELRICH, 13. Adam D'APUZZO, 14.Shaun ONTONG, 16.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 24.Marko JESIC, 26.Mark MILLIGAN, 27.Sean ROONEY, 30.Justin PASFIELD (gk).

In. 7.Kaz Patafta (promoted), 10.Jin-Hyung Song (returns from injury). Out. 12.Jobe Wheelhouse (suspended), 5.James Holland.

Melbourne Victory Squad. 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD.

In. Evan BERGER (return from injury).