The Newcastle Jets had an impressive season last year, finishing as runners-up. Ernie Merrick will look to build upon that surprising finish and go one better.
Wellington have put in a performance belying their bottom of the table position, to push the high flying Jets all the way in a game that resulted in a 1-nil win to Newcastle.
The story of the night was chances galore for Wellington. Wellington’s plan was obvious in a heavy reliance upon the pace of Sapreet Singh, Nathan Burns, and Roy Krishna.
The Phoenix attacked at will through pace and sheer perseverance, as chance after chance fell to the feet of the home side in relatively simple one-on-one or close range chances.
The Phoenix simply could not convert, and as the first half rolled along, a charging Jason Hoffman made his way into the area from the right, where he cut the ball, and had two shots, to get the ball into the net, and give the Jets the lead.
The second half would be much the same, with Wellington wasting chances that on any other night would have resulted in a thumping win for the home side (playing out of Auckland).
Krishna at one point wasted what would have been the best chance of the match, when he put a chance past Duncan, only for Burns to go one further, and miss a six-yard tap in whistling past the post.
The return of Ronald Vargas should have heartened every Jets supporter, and any true supporter of the A-League, as he inserted himself into the game with ease, and showed touches of class that originally had Ernie Merrick so exhilarated.
To come back from the horror injury he suffered was always going to be a victory in itself for the Venezuelan.
The Wellington Phoenix though can look to the end of the season with renewed hope of not necessarily keeping their season alive, but a belief in the squad that the quality is there, they simply need to add the finishing touches.
For Newcastle, they close the gap to five points momentarily behind Sydney, as they charge towards the finals and a hopeful Asian Champions League spot, but perhaps more importantly, first title in ten years.
The win also kept Newcastle’s scoring streak, now at 23 games, well and truly alive.
A cracking game this, and a stellar advert for the A-League. End to end stuff, despite only having one goal for supporters to celebrate.
Wellington Phoenix 0
Newcastle Jets 1