Preview: Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory
Having broken a six-match losing streak on the road, Perth Glory will be looking to really assert themselves as a contender this season against a Newcastle side that will still be ruing some missed chances last weekend.
Date: Friday September 25 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST/ 6:00pm AWST Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 6PR 882AM (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au
Head-to-head Played 13: Wins: Newcastle 3, Perth 6. Draws: 4
Previous meeting Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Round 3, August 2009, ME Bank Stadium
Last five matches: Newcastle Jets: Round 3: Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 4: Newcastle Jets 1, Gold Coast United 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 5: Melbourne Victory 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Etihad Stadium Round 6: Newcastle Jets 0, Brisbane Roar 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 7: Sydney FC 2, Newcastle Jets 1, Sydney Football Stadium
Perth Glory: Round 3: Perth Glory 2, Newcastle Jets 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 4: Perth Glory 2, Melbourne Victory 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 5: Central Coast Mariners 2, Perth Glory 1, Canberra Stadium Round 6: Perth Glory 2, Gold Coast United, ME Bank Stadium Round 7: Brisbane Roar 2, Perth Glory 4, Suncorp Stadium
Analysis: Having broken a six-match losing streak on the road, Perth Glory will be looking to really assert themselves as a contender this season against a Newcastle side that will still be ruing some missed chances last weekend.
Indeed, the Jets were particularly stiff against Sydney FC as the Sky Blues hung on for a 2-1 win at the SFS. Matt Thompson may have scored during the second half, but he'll still be having nightmares about his poor spot kick early in the game that Clint Bolton saved easily. From almost the very next play, Sydney made them pay as Mark Bridge scored a contender for goal of the season. Thompson may have levelled before Steve Corica's penalty gave Sydney the lead once again, but there was still time for another Jets miss as Jin-Hyung Song's long-range effort dipped into the bar.
Two consecutive losses may have seen Newcastle drop to eighth on the Hyundai A-League table. But in such a close competition, a win on Friday night could temporarily take Branko Culina's men into fourth position ahead of the four weekend games. However, they'll need to find a clinical finish after only scoring seven goals so far this season, the second-worst record in the competition, as the club finds adjusting to life without Joel Griffiths harder than expected. With 11 goals against them, the Jets have also conceded the third-highest number of goals as well and life probably isn't going to get any easier for the Newcastle defence either as it looks to contain the attacking talents of Perth's Branko Jelic and Mile Sterjovski. But you can rest assured the central pairing of Ljubo Milicevic and former Glory player Nikolai Topor-Stanley will give them a run for their money, although any concentration lapses could prove particularly dangerous with a poacher like Jelic in the vicinity.
Despite the losses, Culina hasn't been able to make many changes to his squad as Ben Kantarovski, Jason Hoffman and the dangerous Sean Rooney are all away on international duty with the Qantas Young Socceroos in Egypt. Shaun Ontong and Marco Jesic are both unavailable indefinitely with Achilles and knee injuries respectively, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel as Jobe Wheelhouse (ankle) should be fit to resume next week. But, as a result of these restrictions, Culina has only been able to bring Dutch striker Donny de Groot into the side to bolster his attacking options.
In contrast, Glory coach Dave Mitchell has made several changes to the side that defeated Brisbane Roar 4-2 last weekend. One of those was forced and it's a big one, with experienced campaigner Jamie Harnwell out with an eight-week knee injury. Harnwell's absence is a massive blow for the Glory. Lining up as a striker, he played a part in Perth's opening two goals last weekend as he proved the physical foil to Jelic's predatory instincts. His absence will probably see Mitchell return to the Sterjovski/Jelic combination up front, allowing Victor Sikora to start once again on the left flank. Goalkeeper Alex Pearson will also drop to Perth's National Youth League side as No.1 stopper Tando Velaphi returns from a week's absence with concussion, presumably sending Aleks Vrteski to the bench after the deputy did well in his first hit-out this season. Mitchell has also brought in midfielders Amaral and Andrija Jukic to a squad that will be shorn by one ahead of kick-off.
The Glory have played better games this season than last week and come away with nothing. Indeed, Perth rode its luck in the 4-2 win and could be thankful to some very generous goalkeeping by Brisbane's Liam Reddy, who had a shocker. With just five days to go before playing again, the team stayed on in Brisbane but have endured an interrupted preparation for this clash as Wednesday's flight to Newcastle was cancelled due to the dust storm. But all this may still play into Mitchell's hands, as the coach has been looking for a good solid week away with his charges in order to help them bond, and one imagines morale in the camp must be sky high after winning their first road trip since December last year. Already, the newly-built team appears to be settling nicely on the pitch, but Mitchell will be looking to take all these positives and turn them into a win on Friday in order to build some momentum and temporarily climb into equal-top position on the competition's table.
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 10. Donny DE GROOT, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI, 19. Jason NAIDOVSKI, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS
*one to be omitted*
In: Donny DE GROOT (returns from injury)
Unavailable: Ben KANTAROVSKI (international duty), Jobe WHEELHOUSE (ankle - 1 week), Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Sean ROONEY (international duty), Jason HOFFMAN (international duty), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite)
Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC, 25.AMARAL
*one to be omitted*
In: Tando VELAPHI (return from injury), Andrija JUKIC (promoted), AMARAL (promoted)
Out: Jamie HARNWELL (knee - 8 weeks), Alex PEARSON (youth team)