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Young gun Natta hoping Maitland fans embrace in-form Jets


Newcastle Jets young gun Mark Natta hopes the Maitland community embraces them as “their team” ahead of next week’s Australia Cup showdown.

After eliminating the Melbourne Victory in its previous encounter, the A-League Men’s club faces the Brisbane Roar in the Round of 32 clash at the Maitland Regional Sportsground on Monday 14 August from 7.30pm.

It’s the first time the organisation has taken a home game of this significance away from McDonald Jones Stadium.

Gifted Newcastle Jets youngster Mark Natta fronts the media at Maitland Regional Sportsground. Photo: Rod Thompson

And, Natta, and his cohorts, are excited to showcase their skills in front of the Maitland faithful.

“We can’t wait, especially out here at Maitland,” he said.

“We’re at the Regional Sportsground everyday training, so we know the facilities inside out.

“Honestly, it’s one of the best pitches I think I’ve played on, in terms of just the actual grass and the quality of the field.

“So, we’re very familiar with the ground.

“We’ve undertaken a lot of in-house matches against each other here.

“Even though I don’t believe we’ve played a competitive fixture in Maitland yet, or even a trial against another A-League side, we know the field well enough.

“We’ve played each other [here] too many times to count.”

Natta, described as one of Australia’s brightest youngsters, admitted he was impressed the venue.

“Given we train here daily, you can’t help but be rapt with it [the facilities],” the defender told the Newcastle Weekly.

“So, I think that will help us come Monday.

“The surface certainly suits our style of play.

“Obviously, with this pitch, it makes it heaps easier for us to execute our game plan.

“But, we’re hoping a big, vocal Maitland crowd will be here, too.

“It’s good to expand the game out into the regional areas, rather than just being in Newcastle.

“With any luck, these [Maitland] fans will stick around for the A-League season when we’re back in town.

“I think that’s definitely one of the main reasons we’re out here.

“Clearly, we train here, so the locals see us around often or when we’re visiting schools in the area.

“However, to expand the Jets’ presence to a wider region, and represent the Hunter as a whole – beyond Newcastle, if we can get those people to come to our matches more regularly, it’s good for everyone.”

Despite conceding two goals to the Victory in the second half, the Rob Stanton-coached outfit prevailed 4-2 in the penalty shootout to progress in the prestigious knockout tournament.

Natta believes the Jets need to apply the same intensity – and take it up another notch.

“It’ll be a good game (on Monday),” he said.

“We won’t be underestimating them.

“They’re a good side, Brisbane, but we’ve already played a competitive match, against Melbourne (120 minutes).

“That means we have already had a lot of game minutes, so we’ll be ready to go.”

As for Natta’s own goals in 2023/24 after a stand-out 2022/23?

“For me personally, I guess first and foremost, it’s to stay healthy and injury-free,” he said.

“And, be available for selection.

“Other than that, I just want to secure my spot in the starting 11 for as long as possible.”

Jets executive chairman Shane Mattiske said Newcastle was excited to take a top-flight football match to Maitland.

“We’re keen to feature the high-quality training facilities that the team trains out of on a day-to-day basis,” he added.

“Maitland and the surrounding towns are an important part of our fan base.

“So, we’re pleased to bring this Australia Cup tie to them.

“We also want to thank Maitland City Council for its continued support.”

Tickets are currently on sale for the general public.

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