Skipper Brandon O’Neill will make a welcome return to the Newcastle Jets for their important away clash with the Melbourne Victory this weekend.
After serving a suspension, and watching the boys eke out a 2-all draw with the Perth Glory in the opening round of the A-League Men’s (ALM), the classy midfielder has been rushed back into the starting line-up.
His experience, alongside Jason Hoffman, Jason Berthomier and Carl Jenkinson, will hold the team in good stead at AAMI Park on Sunday 29 October, according to coach Rob Stanton.
“Brandon’s a great player,” he said.
“And, with such a young squad in 2023/24, we need those experienced blokes to lead by example.
“He, Jenko (Jenkinson), Hoffy (Hoffman) and Jason are helping drive the standards we’re working on every day, and at training, as well as on and off the pitch.
“What we’re trying to do is create the right identity we want to build for the club… and the team.
“So, those guys are very important.
“They just keep everyone on the line we want to be travelling on.
“The four of them have been there, they’ve done it.
“Jenko’s played in the Premier League, Hoffy’s like a new boy around the place, Brandon’s been terrific and Jason is fitting in well.
“That’s why I brought him to the Jets, he’s got the experience and professionalism to help those around him.
“So, I believe we’ll get better as we go along.”
While Melbourne stunned Sydney FC first-up, Newcastle shared the honours with the hosts in Western Australia.
A late strike to Apostolos Stamatelopoulos in stoppage time saved the day.
“Both teams probably deserved the point to be honest, they both had good chances,” Stanton said.
“I’m a little disappointed in how we conceded those goals.
“But, at the same time, I’m very pleased with the way we showed some strong character to come back twice to get ourselves into the match.
“However, as I said, part of me is disappointed because the boys have shown a lot in pre-season.
“They’ve impressed me and it [round one] was an opportunity to display that.
“We did it in bits and pieces, but the character came through, which I’m really happy with.
“We’ve laid a strong foundation over the past 16 weeks with culture and things like that.
“So, it’s good to display characteristics of what our city of Newcastle expects from us: never give up, fight, be competitive and hard working.
“I think that came through [at the weekend], which pleased me.
“Now, we need to back it up.”
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory FC
(AAMI Park, Sunday 29 October, 5pm)
- Newcastle Jets ALM: 1. Ryan Scott, 3. Jason Hoffman, 5. Lucas Mauragis, 6. Brandon O’Neill, 7. Trent Buhagiar, 8. Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, 11. Jacob Dowse, 13. Clayton Taylor, 14. Dane Ingham, 15. Jason Berthomier, 17. Kosta Grozos, 18. Daniel Stynes, 19. Callum Timmins, 20. Michael Weier, 22. Phil Cancar, 23. Daniel Wilmering, 25. Carl Jenkinson, 33. Mark Natta, 37. Lachlan Bayliss, 39. Thomas Aquilina
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