An unnamed Newcastle Jets player has returned a positive test for COVID-19, just days after the A-League was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sydney FC have heaped more pain on to bottom-placed Newcastle with a 2-1 A-League victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Just five days after their 4-0 loss to Melbourne Victory – the last of coach Ernie Merrick’s reign before he was sacked this week – the Jets went down fighting on Friday night against the champions in front of a crowd of 8047.
Across their past five games, the Jets had leaked 17 goals, but they narrowed the average to a more-respectable figure against the mighty Sky Blues.
It was a valiant effort from the bottom-of-the-ladder Jets, sitting 25 points behind the Blues on the A-League table.
Interim coach Craig Deans said his main focus this week had been making sure his players were mentally prepared to play after a difficult period, rather than developing any new defensive tactics.
“It’s difficult to just say ‘right, we’re going to do this and that’s going to stop them’ because they’re smart enough to play the game on the run a little bit and continue to press,” he said of the Jets’ effort against Sydney FC.
“We need to defend a bit better. With the ball, we were pretty comfortable in possession.
“We got into dangerous areas; we had enough shots and crosses to cause trouble for Sydney. It’s just a matter of being clinical enough and taking them.”
The first goal for Sydney FC came early through none other than Adam Le Fondre, his 13th of the season.
The Jets levelled eight minutes later through some magic footwork and a powerful strike from midfielder Steven Ugarkovic from outside the box.
However, Sky Blues star Kosta Barbarouses made the final goal of the night look too easy, tapping it in from in front off a Milos Ninkovic pass.
The Jets kept a clean sheet in the second half, but were left ruing a missed goal from Panamanian international Abdiel Arroyo, his levelling shot bouncing off the woodwork.
Deans has more woes in preparation for round 15 against second-placed Melbourne City, with keeper Glen Moss succumbing to a calf injury late in the second half.
He was taken from the field, ending his night.
The Sky Blues go into the bye undefeated from their past nine games.