Fireworks are guaranteed in the final A-League match of 2020 as the Newcastle Jets make the short trip to face bitter F3 derby rivals, the Central Coast Mariners, on New Year’s Eve.
The arrival of Costa Rica FIFA World Cup star Marco Ureña and the return of former Mariners junior Oliver Bozanic have boosted the Yellow and Navy faithful’s hopes of seeing Alen Stajcic’s side climb out of the competition doldrums and avoid a fourth straight wooden spoon in 2020-21.
The embattled Jets, however, have suffered a turbulent off-season while searching for new ownership and, following the sudden departure of head coach Carl Robinson to Western Sydney, ex-Westfield W-League mentor Craig Deans has stepped into interim duties with a threadbare squad.
While there has been an exodus from the Hunter outfit, wantaway midfield star Steven Ugarkovic has vowed to give his all for a team that still contains the experience of captain Nigel Boogaard, Lachlan Jackson, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ben Kantarovski, Jason Hoffman and ex-Mariners hitman Roy O’Dononvan, who always seems motivated to see the net bulge against his former employers.
The showdown is scheduled to kick off at Central Coast Stadium from 7.05pm on Thursday 31 December.
In consultation with the NSW Government, a decision has been made to reduce capacity levels at NSW stadiums to 50% for all games until the end of December, including the Mariners-Jets clash, in line with the guidance for New Year’s Eve celebrations state-wide.
All tickets redeemed by Newcastle members remain valid, however the number is reduced from 4,000 to 2,000.
Jets’ fans are asked to ensure they maintain their social distancing between groups in the Away Bays.
“We have worked closely with the NSW Government to ensure the A-League and Westfield W-League seasons will go ahead as planned with the best possible experience for spectators and players within the current restrictions,” head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said.
“Moving the game back three days with a reduced capacity supports the government’s risk mitigation plan in relation to crowds and to mobility around the city on New Year’s Eve.”
- Samuel Green