Sunday, 5 March 2017
Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar FC
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-Off: 7:00PM (Local) (7:00PM (AEDT))
Referee: Jarred Gillett
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 6.45pm (AEDT)
Radio Broadcast: 1233 ABC Newcastle, ABC Radio Brisbane, ABC Radio Qld, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #NEWvBRI
By the time Roar walk – or perhaps trudge – off McDonald Jones on Sunday evening, it will signal the conclusion of 11 matches in 43 days – a game every 3.9 days since January 21 across Australia, New Zealand, China and South Korea.
It’s been an adventure. Tiring, though.
It began in Wellington with a precious win across the ditch, and they’ll hope to bookend this “tour” with another three points to maintain their push into the four (the crucial home Elimination Final for third and fourth spot is the goal).
That said, John Aloisi’s men arrive in the Hunter on the back of a 6-0 ACL smashing in South Korea midweek. How they recover mentally and physically will be the big question.
At least the players will enjoy an ice bath safe in the knowledge with a split round coming up and no ACL next week, some hugely deserved rest is on its way.
By Sunday, the Jets will know whether a win will vault them past Wanderers in sixth, with Tony Popovic’s weary troops (Sydney-Perth-KL stopover-Shanghai-Sydney, their travel itinerary over the last week), facing tenth-placed Adelaide United.
Roar’s spot in the six is all but assured.
The Jets, however, in seventh going into Round 22 are in an almighty battle to squeeze into sixth, with four teams contesting that one spot.
They’d surely fancy their chances after a home game last week affording them a restful seven days to prepare.
And with inspirational skipper Nigel Boogaard back to shore up the defence alongside in form Johnny Koutroubmis, and creative options Wayne Brown and Ma Leilei also returning, the Jets have some class to come back in.
For Roar’s part, Corey Brown and new signing Avram Papadopoulos are big ins for the defensive unit.
It all makes for another intriguing contest as the season draws ever closer to finals football.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Interestingly, both sides have almost exactly the same conversion rate in front of goal (just over 13%) and almost identical goals scored (28-27 in Roar’s favour) while both are just under 50% shot accuracy.
And both have a plethora of attacking options that aren’t quite firing as they could – and perhaps should – be.
For the Jets, five goals scored in their last five games (shot accuracy 46.3%) suggests they’ll need more cutting edge.
However, underperforming central striker Aleks Kokko headed home his first of the season. You sense he’ll want to make up for lost time and could be the missing ingredient up front in the final six rounds in the chase for sixth.
And the returning Englishman Wayne Brown and Chinese Ma Lei Lei are both a danger from range for Newcastle, though winger Andrew Hoole’s future is clouded with reports he won’t be staying at the club beyond this season, though in transition though he remains a huge danger for a tiring Roar late in the game.
Thomas Broich’s form in recent weeks has been eye-catching. Roar will need one last effort from the great man to muster some chances for Roar’s exciting forward line, with top goalscorer Jamie Maclaren (11 goals) and the exciting Brandon Borrello the go-to men on a night when fatigue is likely to play a part for the visitors.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK
Roar. They were thumped 6-0 by a rampant Ulsan Hyundai this week. Not a great night for the club after their last foray into Asia resulted in a famous 2-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua.
FORM LINES (last five games)
Jets 2-1 Roar
Newcastle Jets squad: 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Aleksandr KOKKO, 10.Wayne BROWN, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nicholas COWBURN, 18.MA Leilei, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 23.Devante CLUT, 28.John KOUTROUMBIS, 50.Tomislav ARČABA (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (returns from suspension), 10.Wayne BROWN (returns from suspension), 18.MA Leilei (returns from suspension), 20.Jack DUNCAN (gk) (returns from injury)
Outs: 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT (omitted), 30.Pierce CLARK (gk) (omitted)
Unavailable: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk) (achilles – season), 21.Daniel ALESSI (knee – season)
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Avram PAPADOPOULOS, 7.Thomas KRISTENSEN, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.Brett HOLMAN, 11.Tommy OAR, 13.Jade NORTH, 15.ARANA, 17.Matt MCKAY (c), 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 26.Nick D’AGOSTINO, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 29.Joe CALETTI, 46.Cameron CRESTANI, 50.Dane INGHAM
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Corey BROWN (returns from injury), 6.Avram PAPADOPOULOS (promoted), 11.Tommy OAR (promoted), 15.ARANA (promoted), 26.Nick D’AGOSTINO (promoted), 50.Dane INGHAM (promoted)
Outs: 16.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS (not selected), 20.Shannon BRADY (not selected), 25.Kye ROWLES (not selected), 33.Joey KATEBIAN (not selected)
Unavailable: 3.Luke DEVERE (calf – 3 weeks), 4.Daniel BOWLES (knee – season)