Round 4 is headlined by this season’s first installment of the A-League’s original derby with the reigning Champions heading to Hunter Stadium to take on bottom placed Newcastle.
The Jets have failed to score in their opening three games and sit anchored to the bottom of the ladder with two points from a possible nine. A first round loss, followed up by back-to-back draws has seen Gary Van Egmond’s men lacking confidence and it won’t get any easier this week.
They face a Central Coast side who sit in third place after their maiden season nine win last week at home over Adelaide. An early strike from Nick Fitzgerald was enough to see the Mariners earn their first 3 points of the new campaign.
Central Coast’s high press troubled the Reds defence last week as they struggled at times to get the ball over half way. Josep Gombau’s men had 60% of possession yet had not one single shot on goal for the entire match. Mariners coach Graham Arnold will be hoping for the same pressure again from his players as he has the strike force up front to bag plenty of goals.
Michael McGlinchey, Marcos Flores, and Nick Fitzgerald will look to dominate the midfield and provide plenty of opportunities early for themselves and Mitchell Duke. Understandably for the Mariners they still lack the defensive cohesion they’ve enjoyed over previous years, however the centre back pairing of Trent Sainsbury and Zac Anderson look strong, while Storm Roux has impressed so far at his new club.
The Jets this year are playing a type of football their fans are not pleased with; many are calling for head coach Gary Van Egmond to be shown the door. There is a defensive mindset in the way they play, with no real attacking options in the front third. Emile Heskey is a big inclusion for the Novocastrians this week; however he can’t defeat the reigning Champions on his own.
The Key Issue:
Confidence is a big thing in football and has a lot to do with a team’s form, the Mariners have it in spades at the moment, the Jets, well, not so much. Newcastle enjoy a good record at home against the Mariners, they have won 7 games, lost 3, and drawn 4. But that record doesn’t count for much when you’re not scoring goals. Newcastle needs to score and they need to score early, if they don’t and the Mariners do, it could be a long night for the Jets faithful.
The X Factor:
With 9 goals last season the Jets marquee man Emile Heskey returns after missing the first three rounds through injury. His inclusion is a big one, and will provide a desperately needed attacking option up front. The towering Englishman will be focused on getting Newcastle out of their goal drought, which now stands at 406 minutes.
Forget ladder positions when it comes to this game as it won’t mean anything Saturday night. Newcastle always steps up in the F3 derby, in what is one of their biggest home and away games of the year. Despite this Central Coast are a class above their northern rivals at the moment and should look to claim their first 3 points away from home. This is the best start to their season under Arnold’s tenure and it will continue with a win on Saturday night.
Central Coast 2-0.
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners
Round 4 – Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Saturday, November 2, 2013 – 7:45pm
Played 29 – Wins: Newcastle 9, Central Coast 10. Draws 10.
Last Time They Met:
January 19, 2013 – Central Coast 0 – 0 Newcastle
Central Coast – DDW