Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins admitted he got his side’s tactics wrong in the first half but praised their ability to ride out the storm to get a result against Sydney FC on Saturday night.
The Jets began 2015 with a hard-earned 0-0 draw against the Sky Blues at WIN Stadium, riding their luck for much of the night but holding on for their first clean sheet of the season.
Sydney had a host of chances in the first 45 minutes but somehow failed to beat Jets ‘keeper Ben Kennedy, seemingly breaking through the visitor’s 3-4-3 system at will.
But Stubbins tweaked things at the break, going to four at the back and asking his players to ‘relax’ and they were much better in the second half.
“We got it wrong in the first half with our system. They took advantage of how we set up and it played to their strengths,” Stubbins conceded afterwards.
They’ve got Alex Brosque who’s a very clever footballer and I thought he was a key for them in the first half. (Marc) Janko as well and then (Bernie) Ibini running at you.
“They’ve got some weapons and like I said we got it wrong in the first half but we changed it up the right way and the response was a positive one for us.
“Overall the boys lifted. What was said at half-time was relax. We gave the ball away and turned things over in positions that we don’t need to and then we bring the pressure on ourselves.
“We held possession a lot better in the second half and created chances through good football and we’ll take a lot out of that.”
Stubbins said playmaker Marcos Flores – who was again left out of the match-day squad – was too much of a risk to play but he will be “100 percent” following the three week Asian Cup break.
More than 11,000 fans turned up at neutral Wollongong to watch the match, with Stubbins impressed by the support for football on the South Coast.
“It was fantastic. Sydney had a good support, very vocal and the stadium was magnificent,” Stubbins said.
“The curator and the people in charge of the stadium and the pitch was outstanding and they deserve a lot of credit.“It was a big plus for the A-League tonight…it was a 0-0 draw but certainly not a drab one.”