Absence of O’Donovan a worry for Newcastle

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Newcastle Jets’ attacking depth was put to the test as they went head to head with A-League Champions Sydney FC without their star striker Roy O’Donovan.

The Jets saw their undefeated start to the 2017/18 A-League season come to an end as Graham Arnold’s side triumphed 2-1 to hand Newcastle their first loss of the season and knock them off the top of the A-League ladder.

Jets coach Ernie Merrick was forced to field a weakened side with injuries to key players O’Donovan and Wayne Brown.

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Merrick relied on youth as he gave Joseph Champness his full league debut while he entrusted Andrew Nabbout to fill the void left by O’Donovan.

They only managed one shot on target in the first half with their makeshift front three as they struggled to impose themselves on Sydney’s defence.

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Without their star striker on the pitch, Nabbout and Champness failed to convert their opportunities and maintain their side’s impressive form in front of goal.

Prior to their encounter with the Sky Blues Newcastle averaged 2.5 goals per game and triumphed in all three of their away fixtures this season.

Despite their defeat, the Jets still have the best goal scoring record in the league having hit the back of the net an impressive 16 times in their first seven matches.

However, O’Donovan was responsible for just under half of his side’s goals with seven goals to his name this campaign. The 32-year-old is three ahead of the club’s second highest scorer Dimitri Petratos who scored his fourth goal for the Jets in last night’s encounter.

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Petratos was one of the few standout players for Newcastle as he continued his fine start to his Jets career while his teammate Jason Hoffman stood out for all the wrong reasons.

The defender was forced to fill in as right wing and was out of place further up the pitch, offering very little in attack for Merrick’s men with the goalscoring burden being forced onto the attacking duo of Champness and Nabbout.

Judging by last night’s performance, squad depth will be an issue for Newcastle this campaign and the wellbeing of their star striker could play a pivotal role in determining their final league standing.

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Samuel Greco Schwartz
Samuel Greco Schwartz
Studying Journalism at UTS. Obsessed with football and a die hard supporter of Sydney FC and Liverpool FC in the EPL

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