Captain's knocks, new faces and match-winning braces: The A-League players who were the difference in Round 19
Round 19 was an interesting weekend of football with no draws, 19 goals in six matches, two five-goal games on Sunday and for the…
Disappointing, frustrating, disheartening. Pick your adjective, take all three even.
This is what Newcastle Jets fans are feeling at this point of the A-League Men season. Some of the words used online are far harsher. Some have merit, others just smack of the usual unhelpful venting.
Hopes were raised after securing three points in a mid-week home fixture against the Western Sydney Wanderers. One solitary point from the next four fixtures has left fans with that ‘here we go again’ feeling.
The Wellington Phoenix home fixture (Gosford was an outlying New Zealand satellite for a couple of hours) was the most frustrating of evenings.
Myself and a couple of friends made the journey into familiar enemy territory. The usual banter began before we even made it to the ground.
We stopped off for dinner and a couple of pre-match beers. I was asked if I was wearing my Jets shirt for a bet. Typical Coastie, old joke and not at the ground to support his local side.
The CCM versus Victory game was the early game of this mid-week double header. Then $32 for a seat in the away bay, no extension on the $20 ticket offer?! Welcome back to the Coast!
The game itself proved to be even more frustrating. Newcastle dominated play, had two thirds of the possession and created numerous opportunities. At 2-1 down at half time, all three of us agreed on one thing: there would be more goals in the second half.
When Olivier Boumal rifled home to equal the score in the 63rd minute it did seem to be only a matter of when, not if, the Novocastrians would secure the three match points. Wellington’s David Ball’s 88th-minute header put paid to any ideas of a glorious win.
Defensive frailties were again to the fore, including Jets captain Matt Jurman for the early penalty and failing to decisively attack the ball for the third and ultimately winning goal.
The finger was pointed at Jordan Elsey being out of position for the second.
The shot count from this game borders on the ridiculous. The Phoenix had ten shots, five were on target, and I believe the statistician was being generous too. The Jets had 31 shots, and nine were on target.
To rub salt into the travelling fans’ wounds, some Coasties did a fair amount of gloating in the final minutes of the game. The F3 rivalry is alive and well even when it’s not Jets versus Coast.
The Adelaide versus Newcastle contest proved to be another heartbreaker. Former Jet Craig Goodwin again proved to be a big thorn in our footballing side, setting up George Blackwood for a third-minute opener and Mohamed Toure for the late winner.
Angus Thurgate continued his rich vein of goal scoring for Newcastle with his fifth of the season.
For all the frustration, though, the football has been attacking, slick, brave and entertaining (especially for the neutral football fan). In Thurgate, Daniel Penha and Beka Mikeltadze, Newcastle have some of the best performers in the A-League Men.
This Friday night’s fixture may well return some good fortune to the Newcastle Jets’ faithful fans. The vagaries of the A-League Men fixture list, thanks to COVID, means a contest against the Wellington Phoenix.
The Kiwis will have potentially seven players missing from their squad. Five have been selected for the New Zealand All Whites’ Qatar World Cup qualifiers. David Ball is out suspended and Alex Rufer is currently under an injury cloud.
That said, the Phoenix have proven to be very resilient throughout the last two-plus years. Their depth will be severely tested. The likes of defender Tim Payne, in-form goalkeeper Oli Sail and striker David Ball will be very hard to replace.
With a $10 active support ticket promotion for this game, a reasonable crowd should be on hand to cheer on the Jets. Hopefully less frustration, plenty of goals and dare I predict it, a win.