Preview: Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets
Whether Newcastle's forwards have the ability to make it through Perth's well-organised defence remains to be seen as the Glory have only conceded one goal through general play so far this season.
Date: Sunday August 23 Kick-off: 3:00pm AWST, 5:00pm AEST Venue: ME Bank Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 6PR 882 AM (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Head-to-head 12 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Perth Glory 5, Newcastle Jets 3, Draws 4
Previous meeting Newcastle Jets 2, Perth Glory 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium, Round 20, February 2009
Season so far: Perth Glory: Round 1: Adelaide United 1, Perth Glory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 2: Wellington Phoenix 2, Perth Glory 1, Westpac Stadium
Newcastle Jets: Round 1: Newcastle Jets 3, Wellington Phoenix 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 2: Central Coast Mariners 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis: After last week's heartbreaking loss to Wellington, the Glory will be looking to get their campaign back on track in more familiar surrounds this weekend. But they're coming up against a resilient Newcastle outfit that's proven tough to beat over the opening two weeks of the new season.
The Glory may have fallen victim to a Leo Bertos thunderbolt in last Sunday's 2-1 loss to Wellington, but the Perth boys were hardly disgraced after dominating the second half and going narrowly close to scoring. Coach Dave Mitchell will be keen to maintain the momentum in the club's first match at the newly re-named ME Bank Stadium, and, on paper, it looks like he's got the squad to do it. Whether all the big names can finally gel on the park, though, remains to be seen.
Fortunately for the coach, star defender Chris Coyne has recovered from the stomach virus that forced him from the field in the 27th minute last weekend. Coyne will line up once again alongside fellow veteran Andy Todd at the heart of the defence with Naum Sekulovski and Scott Neville presumably lining up on the left and right respectively.
It's in the midfield where Mitchell may shake up his options, however, after Victor Sikora was also forced off. Sikora has been included in the squad but faces a race against time to recover from a corked quad, with his position presumably to be taken by Todd Howarth who excelled on the left flank last weekend. Mitchell, though, has also included another left-sided midfielder in Scott Bulloch, who returns from a foot injury. Skipper Jacob Burns and Wayne Srhoj should once again anchor the midfield, but the right midfield position remains something of a mystery.
In 2008-09, Adriano Pellegrino held it down with aplomb but the coach has other options now. Last week Pellegrino was forced to move into right-back following Coyne's injury, and the coach could do this again, sacrificing Scott Neville to the bench as he uses marquee man Mile Sterjovski on the right, behind the two strikers. After starting every one of the last 23 matches, Pellegrino himself could also be played off the bench this time around to accommodate Sterjovski on the right, or the Qantas Socceroo could once again be played up front alongside Serbian striker Branko Jelic, who is rapidly becoming a fan favourite. Fellow strikers Eugene Dadi and injury replacement Matthew Mayora could also be played off the bench, with Mitchell possibly using Mayora's pace in the same manner as Nikita Rukavytsya's last year.
The Jets meanwhile, will be looking to maintain their positive form, despite suffering a few scares from the F3 Derby against Central Coast last weekend. Indeed, Newcastle was particularly fortunate not to concede during the first half as the Mariners laid siege to Ben Kennedy's goal. But having made it through to half-time unscathed, the Jets hit their opponent with a sucker punch as Jin-Hyung Song gave the visitors a 47th minute lead. Unfortunately, Newcastle only held the advantage for less than three minutes before an unmarked Nigel Boorgaard nodded home the equaliser which eventually saw the points shared in Gosford.
It's calamitous defending like this that will have coach Branko Culina concerned this weekend. One gets the impression that if the Glory had netted a second goal, the floodgates might have opened against Wellington as the Phoenix defence was torn apart time and again during the second half. Culina will be trying to counter this and should turn once again to the lion-hearted Ljubo Milicevic. The big man looked the goods when swapped from central defence into the midfield last weekend and it would be a surprise to see him moved from there as former Glory favourite Nikolai Topor-Stanley will ably occupy the centre half role alongside Ang Costanzo.
Milicevic, though, will offer a formidable defensive presence at the heart of Newcastle's midfield and his brief will presumably be to use his physicality to knock the Glory off the ball and thwart their attacks. If Perth loses possession, the Jets have a classy playmaker in Fabio Vignaroli on hand to set up their own forward movements, while Matt Thompson, Sasho Petrovski, Jason Hoffman and Song himself all know where the goals are once the ball's in the final third. Whether Newcastle's forwards have the ability to make it through Perth's well-organised defence remains to be seen, however, as the Glory have only conceded one goal through general play so far this season.
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 4.Andy TODD, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC, 24.Matthew MAYORA
* two to be omitted*
In: 13.Scott BULLOCH (return from injury), 14.Eugene DADI (promoted)
Unavailable: Jamie COYNE (knee - 3 weeks), Jimmy DOWNEY (knee - 5 weeks), Jamie HARNWELL (hamstring - 1 week), Anthony SKORICH (hip - 6 weeks)
Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 15. Sean ROONEY, 16. Jason HOFFMAN, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI, 19. Jason NAIDOVSKI, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 24. Chris TRIANTIS
*One to be omitted*
In: Ben KANTAROVSKI
Unavailable: 10. Donny DE GROOT (knee - indefinite), 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (ankle - 4 weeks), 13. Shaun ONTONG (groin - 1 week), 18. Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite), 22. Kaz PATAFTA (back - indefinite)