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ALM GALLERY: Mauragis confident Jets can prevail

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It might seem like “mission impossible” but young gun Lucas Mauragis remains confident the Newcastle Jets can still make a run for the play-offs.

But, with eight regular matches remaining in 2023/24, the Hunter-based A-League Men’s (ALM) club cannot afford any more slip-ups.

Rob Stanton’s men had plenty of opportunities to upset fourth-placed Macarthur FC at the weekend, however had to settle for a 2-all draw.

Newcastle’s Clayton Taylor evades Kristian Popovic at McDonald Jones Stadium at the weekend. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

That’s in spite of Mauragis’ scintillating performance that drew praise from most football pundits.

In the end, not even that was enough to separate the two combatants.

“Yeah, it felt like another one [match], which got away from us,” the midfielder said.

“It’s been a common theme for the side this season.

“We had our chances to finish off the game… and we didn’t do it.

“So, from that perspective, it’s disappointing.

“That’s what Rob spoke to the boys about at the break.

“He wanted us to nail those final touches, but we were unable to put them away.

“We really believed we could get a result in the second half from the way we’d been playing.”

As for Mauragis’ own form, it can’t be faulted.

After debuting for Newcastle in 2019/20, the Australian under-23 representative was loaned to the Wellington Phoenix to ply his trade before returning to the Jets under Stanton.

And, he’s made every post a winner since.

The 22-year-old has attracted the attention of national selectors again, gaining a call-up to the Olyroos recently for their friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Qatar in November.

“I’m happy with how I’m going,” he said.

“I am trying to get involved as much as I can, moving forward.

“Obviously, there are always things to work on.

“However, I’m really making the most of my time on the pitch.”

Newcastle’s campaign doesn’t get any easier, with an F3 derby with the Central Coast Mariners looming at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday 2 March.

Currently, the Jets occupy 11th spot on the ladder on 19.

While the team is eight points adrift of the top six, only four points separates third (Melbourne Victory) to sixth (Sydney FC), so a few consecutive victories would close the gap.

“We’ve shown we can compete with the best, we even beat ALM leaders Wellington,” Mauragis said.

“Now, we’re facing the Mariners, in second position, at home.

“It’s another good test.

“At this stage, it’s important to take each game as it comes and do everything to secure the three points.

“I’m sure if we stick to our process, the finals will be within reach.”

Meanwhile, then Mariners enter the fray on the back of an impressive 1-0 triumph over the Victory.

The eagerly-awaited showdown kicks off at 6pm.

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