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ALM: Plucky Jets face battle to avoid wooden spoon

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The Newcastle Jets will use the upcoming representative break to recharge their batteries for their final charge in the A-League Men’s (ALM) season.

While Rob Stanton’s outfit won’t contest the play-offs, the players are determined to avoid the wooden spoon after a spirited campaign in 2023/24.

For the umpteenth time, Newcastle let another match slip through its grasp in the last 15 minutes, losing 1-0 to Adelaide United at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night (15 March).

“I’m disappointed,” Stanton admitted.

“I am not sure what’s worse, getting belted like 5-0 or being pipped 1-0.

“Because [tonight] I felt we were close and then one little mistake, or we switch off, and we get punished.

“So, yeah, it’s disappointing.

“It was the same story last week, so close yet so still so far away.

“I thought this was a pretty even match when you look at the stats, maybe they had a few more shots.

“So, there wasn’t much in it.

“We just didn’t manage that moment and paid the price.”

Sadly, despite some terrific saves by goalie Ryan Scott and brilliant efforts down the flank by Lucas Mauragis, the Jets didn’t capitalise on their golden opportunities to Thomas Aquilina, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos and Rene Piscopo, to name a few.

Then, in the 80th minute, Luke Luka Jovanovic produced a fantastic bit of individual football to put the visitors ahead 1-0.

Ironically, it was Scott – pushing into the forward line for a corner – who had the chance to equalise in the dying stages, however his header sailed too high.

“We’ve seen that storyline too often this year, conceding late goals,” Stanton said.

“But, I don’t feel like we’re in a hole.

“I actually believe we’re in an alright space to be honest.

“I know we lost.

“However, for me, we’d be in a hole if we’re getting pummelled and we’re really under the pump.

“That’s not the case.

“I’m going into games feeling like we’re going to win.

“That’s why I’m disappointed.

“I don’t believe we can’t win the match, or we don’t have the right attitude, heading into the fixture.

“The disappointment comes from our frustration of not being able to complete it and play it out when we’re in positions to win, like this week, last week and the week before.

“I’d be in a different mindset if we were 4-0 or 5-0 down.

“Even though the results aren’t falling our way, everyone’s in a good space.”

Newcastle next runs onto the turf against Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday 30 March.

And, Stanton is fixated on finishing on a positive note.

“I think there’s only six matches remaining,” he said.

“But, just the next game is the focus, I haven’t changed from that way of thinking.

“You always want to be the top team in the league.

“So, you can only focus on the next match… I’ve never focused on anything else except the next game.

“Otherwise, you’ll get carried away in this competition.

“If you look at the results from last week, it’s all over the shop.

“You can’t predict it, so anything can happen.

“As I said before, there’s an element of frustration [within the group] and I’m sure the players are very disappointed, too.

“However, we have got to use the FIFA rep hiatus, with some of the boys away on international duty, wisely.

“It will allow us an opportunity to give players some minutes in an in-house match.

“A few of them need to get some more time under their belt.

“We’ll do that and then go from there.”

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