Wobbly defence yet again costs entertaining Newcastle Jets

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Newcastle Jets are one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the A-League Men this season.

Unfortunately for their fans in the Hunter region, this hasn’t translated into points as they approach the halfway mark of the 2021/22 campaign.

There is a big gap between their most successful positional group on the pitch and their most unsuccessful.

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They have scored the fourth most goals in the ALM this season, despite having played two-to-three games less than most other clubs as a result of covid disruptions.

The combination of Brazilian magician Denial Penha, Georgian striker Beka Mikeltadze and Cameroonian winger Olivier Boumal has been a delight to watch, and seen the Jets score in all but one game this season.

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The issue, however, is the dysfunctional defensive group that has conceded a league-worst 23 goals in only 13 games.

Despite the high profile signings of Jordan Elsey and Matthew Jurman, individual errors have prevented the Jets from claiming a spot in the top six so far this season.

Against Western United on Saturday that was once again the case.

Jurman’s poor pass was capitalised by Lachlan Wales, who won the corner from which the home side scored their first goal.

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Similarly, the second goal came from another set piece in which a lack of communication between Jurman and goalkeeper Jack Duncan saw Lacroix handed his second goal of the game.

The Swiss defender could hardly believe his luck as he headed into an empty net.

Despite a gallant comeback, the Jets were left to rue wasted opportunities and some poor individual mistakes.

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“Disappointing for the group because performance wise it was right up there, but it’s difficult to take because obviously the result is still the result.

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We had the chances to finish the game level,” head coach Arthur Papas said post-match.

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“The pass [leading up to the first goal] was an errant pass and he [Jurman] needs to concentrate better in those moments. That led to the corner which led to the goal. It didn’t mean that we needed to concede from it though, but that’s what happened.”

As long as you score more goals than you concede it’s a recipe for success. John Aloisi’s Western United have found that recipe through a series of 1-0 wins.

Whilst it may not be pretty to watch, defensive stability is equally as important as putting the ball in the back of the net, a fact that Papas agrees with.

“I try not to get emotional about these things because at the end of the day we’ve scored in every game no matter who we have played,” he said.

“If I dissect those goals today and how were they scored, it was from restarts.

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“It’s something that has happened a few times this season and I need to fix it. But in saying that, there was a stage in that game where I liked the fact we were trying to have a go and score the whole time.

“I’m proud of the way we go about playing but we need to get better, that’s for sure.”

The Jets remain in contention for a place in the top six, with Sydney FC currently occupying sixth spot on the table.

The Sky Blues have also played an extra three games and only hold a three-point lead, giving hope to Jets fans that they can make the finals series for the first time since the 2017/18 season.

For Western United it was another positive result in a standout campaign. Aloisi’s men are now three points and a game in hand ahead of second place Melbourne City.

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“I thought that without the ball we were very comfortable until they scored. They play some good attacking football and they’re quick, but we managed that well,” Aloisi said after the game.

“We created out chances and I’m disappointed that we didn’t take more of the opportunities that we had.

“They got their goal which was sloppy from our side, but all in all though we were good for the majority of the game.”

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Dillon Izon
Dillon Izon
Marketing graduate at Monash University. Sports addicted, fan of Manchester United and Melbourne City. My gran “knows” Gareth Bale.

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