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ALM: Flat Jets pay heavy penalty for loss

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The Newcastle Jets’ hopes of securing a top six A-League Men’s (ALM) spot suffered a major setback at AAMI Park on Friday night.

And, the fact Rob Stanton’s men lost 2-0 to the last-placed Western United on 16 February added to the pain.

Daniel Penha’s moment of “pure class” – a ‘panenka’ penalty in the 16th minute – set the tone before Noah Botic sealed the three competition points early in the second half as Western won for the first time since December 15.

However, Newcastle rued missed opportunities on the road.

Nathan Grimaldi fired his volley over the bar, then Trent Buhagiar had two great chances in quick succession.

He headed the ball between two defenders to find himself through on goal but he was unable to steady himself.

Moments later, Buhagiar forced a fine diving save from goalie Tom Heward-Belle.

After holding a 1-0 advantage at the break, Western extended its lead 10 minutes into the second half thanks to Botic, who got on the end of an inch-perfect cross from Josh Ridson.

But, time and time again, Heward-Belle continued to deny Buhagiar as well as Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

Stanton admitted the Jets were lacklustre in the round 17 encounter.

“I thought we looked a bit flat and we lacked energy,” he said.

“We were second to balls and things like that.

“They just had more energy than us for some reason.

‘We were good during the week.

“Maybe, it was the short turnaround.

“We didn’t make good decisions and we didn’t provoke options.

“It seemed like we were waiting for them to have a go at us but then we’d get ourselves into all sorts of trouble at times.

“I tried to fix it at half-time, I made some adjustments and explained to them clearly what I wanted.

“However, we did create enough chances to get something out of the game, so that’s a positive.

“Sadly, we just weren’t good enough or sharp enough [tonight] to do that.

“Sometimes it’s hard to be up for it every week, sometimes you can be a little bit flat, which we were.

“Whether it’s an accumulation of the travel, who knows, but we looked fatigued and we looked off.”

Newcastle also went into the showdown without Reno Piscopo and Archie Goodwin and lost the ever-consistent Kosta Grozos soon after the whistle blew.

However, Stanton didn’t use those obstacles as an excuse.

“We had a lot to play for,” he said.

“United just showed more desperation for the ball.

“We also missed two-to-three clear cut headers right in front… Tommy (Heward-Belle) made some good saves.

“That’s football, it’s what happens.

“I believe we had more possession, more shots but it doesn’t mean anything.

“It’s about the moments in the games, taking your chances and we failed to do that.

“A couple of little injuries didn’t help either.

“Losing Kosta early on threw us out.

“Cal (Timmins) came on and did a pretty good job, however Kosta and Brandon (O’Neill) have been a stable component in the middle.

“Then Brandon got injured at the end.

“Clayton Taylor wasn’t 100% but he still had a go from the bench.

“Tommy Aquilina also copped a knock, he was limping a little bit.

“So, I didn’t want to leave him out there in case it was more serious.

“But, again, that’s football.

“What upset me was our uncharacteristic game, especially after what we’ve shown in the past three-to-four weeks.

“That’s what I am disappointed with.

“Maybe, I need to rethink some of the things we’ve done with them ahead of our next game against Macarthur at home.”

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