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ALM: O’Neill keen for Jets to maintain winning form

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Off the back of a last-start victory, Newcastle Jets skipper Brandon O’Neill is keen to continue that momentum in this weekend’s eagerly-anticipated F3 derby.

The Hunter-based A-League Men’s (ALM) club broke its 2023/24 drought in its previous outing, knocking over Western United 1-0, which capped some good early season form.

The win, via another Apostolos Stamatelopoulos goal – on the road at Mars Stadium, lifted Newcastle to seventh spot on the ladder, following two draws and a loss.

Newcastle Jets inspirational captain Brandon O’Neill. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

“That was a good result for everyone,” O’Neill said.

“I think it was just reward for how we’ve been travelling, especially at the start of the season.

“To be honest, we probably feel we should be a few wins to the good.

“But, it’s always great to get your first one of the year.

“It’ll give the group a bit of confidence, especially with a clash against the Central Coast Mariners drawing near.

“In saying that, we’ve been there or thereabouts in the opening four rounds, which is great for a young squad.

“The best thing about us is that there’s potential there to be a very good side.

“What we now need to learn is how to win football games… and how to do it consistently.

“I believe the match (against United) was the perfect example of that.

“It was probably our worst performance of the season, in tough conditions.

“However, a clean sheet and three [competition] points are the name of the game really.

“So, for a young team to understand that we can play our worst match of football, and still prevail, is massive for the group moving forward.”

Brandon O’Neill sets up an attacking raid. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

It’s a far cry from the Jets’ effort against the Western Sydney Wanderers a fortnight earlier.

Newcastle led that fixture 2-1 but conceded an equaliser at the death.

O’Neill admitted the youngsters had learned a valuable lesson.

“Definitely,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“It’s a matter of managing the game better.

“I think the way a lot of people saw us play against the Wanderers… it surprised them.

“They were probably caught on the back foot, saying ‘oh, these lads can play’.

“But, again, we only came away with a point.

“So, the challenge is, especially this weekend and leading into the back end of the year, to play that way but secure a victory, too.

“That’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

Brandon O’Neill in the clash with the Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Central Coast, on the other hand, won’t be a pushover either.

Despite being winless so far in 2023/24, the Mariners are the defending ALM titleholders.

Plus, the showdown is scheduled for Industree Group Stadium on Saturday 25 November.

“I love playing the F3 derbies,” O’Neill said.

“The first 10-15 minutes really set the atmosphere, you feel the game itself.

“Central Coast has had a difficult start, but they’re good, really good.

“They haven’t been far away in their matches either, so that’s how we’ve prepared ourselves.

“We also know they’ll come good at some point.

“People tend to forget they’re the champions.

“So, we’ve trained quite hard during the little international break and at the beginning of the week, narrowing in on how we’re going to win the game.

“We’ve set a precedent now against Western, clean sheets are imperative for us.

“Our problem has never been scoring goals, we’re a free-flowing side.

“And, if we get the chance, we must take it.

“But, it’s just as important to keep them out.

“I’m happy with how the lads are going.

“They’re doing really well and, along with the coaching staff, we’re heading in the right direction.

“Hopefully, that continues this weekend.”

In more good news for the Jets, Archie Goodwin is named in the squad.

Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners

(Saturday 25 November, Industree Group Stadium)

5.30pm – A-League Men

  • Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ryan Scott, 3. Jason Hoffman, 5. Lucas Mauragis, 6. Brandon O’Neill (c), 7. Trent Buhagiar, 8. Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, 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, 26. Archie Goodwin, 33. Mark Natta, 27. Lachlan Bayliss, 39. Thomas Aquilina
  • Central Coast Mariners squad: 2. Mikael Doka, 3. Brian Kaltak, 4. Josh Nisbet, 5. Noah Smith, 6. Max Balard, 7. Christian Theoharous, 9. Alou Kuol, 10. Marco Tulio, 11. Angel Torres, 14. Dylan Wenzel-Halls, 15. Storm Roux, 17. Jing Reec, 18. Jacob Farrell, 20. Danny Vukovic (c), 23. Dan Hall, 26. Brad Tapp, 28. Will Wilson, 30. Jack Warshawsky 33. Nathan Paull, 39. Miguel Di Pizio

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