Let’s Jet Up The Table – Round 12 Preview

Wanderers celebrate with fans in Gosford

Photo by Eric Berry (Efcso)

VARy Good
After last weeks game I wrote an article on the VAR backlash which discusses how fans and pundits are over the use of VAR, and, while it hasn’t been scrapped, it looks to be heavily reduced. Personally, I hate the bloody thing. It makes me cringe.

Word is that the VAR is just for “clear howlers” according to VAR referee and former A-League referee, Strebre Delovski.
Even players like Sydney FC’s Alex Brosque made it clear that he’s not a fan of the video assistant, stating that “the less you see the VAR get involved in matches, the better”.

Apparently, from this weekend, changes will be made to the use of VAR as per a memo that was sent earlier in the week with the proposed:
– VAR’s should only intervene when there is a clear/obvious error or a missed incident by the on-field referee
– VAR to use a high threshold for intervention on fouls
– VAR to focus on match-changing situations

Basically, VAR is only to be used for ‘obvious mistakes’ and, once a card has been issued it cannot be reviewed. Cue #SokkahTwitter outrage when something isn’t called as it should be…

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail
Next up is Newcastle away. It’s usually a great afternoon out (even with the two hour drive) but the powers that be placed this game on a Friday night – and not any random Friday at that, as it is the Friday where many start their end of year holiday break, many up the north coast coincidentally.

We’ve been screwed in previous holiday period fixtures before and come to think of it we have had a Newcastle game on Christmas Eve back in the 15/16 season where only a few thousand attended and a lot of fans were up in arms over it and I can understand why; families go away for holidays and/or family gatherings during Christmas.

Whilst the FFA have done well to not have this game on Christmas Eve, they’ve royally cooked it by having it on a Friday night on the last working day for most where a mass Sydney exodus will take place for the break. What usually is a massive turnout of 2-4,000 traveling red and black could be 10-100, and you can only thank the scheduling for that.

Same Same?
Our starting eleven showed that they’re adapting to the ways of Gombau last week just down the freeway from Newcastle. Could it have been the players on the pitch, a solid week in training or a lesser opposition? I am in no way calling the Mariners a lesser opposition as they are above us, but you can check out the best and worst vs CCM and the written analysis for a better look into it. Sure Santa’s experience and instinct helps, but the players around make it all happen by playing to Gombau’s style and I expect at least eight or nine of the same to start this match, if not all.
Good to note that Chris Herd and Steven Lustica are back in contention for the squad as well while Hamill may come in for Risdon who serves a one-match suspension for yellow cards.

Against All Odds
This will be our second away trip to Newcastle in under three months where our last visit had us fight for a 1:1 draw. Since that match Newcastle have won five games and gained fifteen points sitting in second, whereas we have won one and gained five points in total, thanks to a couple of draws and we currently sit in eighth with a game in hand.

We’ve been missing Riera for a couple of weeks who is now back, however Newcastle are without Vargas from his injury and more recently Roy ‘The Boy’O’Donovan who was scoring goals for fun, so a lot of the goal scoring burden has been placed on Andrew Nabbout )who has six goals) and Dimi Petratos (who has five). The duo have been doing the business for the Jets and are a threat going forward with Nabbout’s pace and Petratos’ skill.

If we see Cornthwaite back in along side Thwaite whilst having Raul and perhaps Hamill on the wings and Keanu holding, I’d say we have enough experience and know-how to deal with them. My only concern is getting caught high up the pitch and having C-Thwaite exposed, leaving a counter attack for Newcastle possible.

They are no gems in defence though, having conceded almost a goal a game so they can be a little fragile and if Riera has recovered enough to start he’ll be an issue for them as he does drop deep to receive a ball and play it out wide and as we’ve seen he causes problems for defenders. This could be the cue for Santa to do some damage off the bench after the 70th minute, but judging by the changes in the past few weeks it’s all questionable.

Seeing Out The Game
Stephen mentioned in his Best & Worst the team conserving energy rather than going for a cricket score. Newcastle are no easy beats. They have scored the most goals after the 75th minute (six) whereas we are yet to score one in this time bracket. We have however scored over 80% of our goals in the first half’s which goes back to the whole ‘we die out after the 60th minute’ observation.

Granted, should we score one or two early, it will then be all eyes on the midfield and defence to keep that back-line squeaky clean and not give the Jets anything.

Two In A Row?
I sense another draw since we start strong yet finish weak but should the VAR be kept out of use we might be in for a classic match of attacking intent from both sides as we need the win to gain ground on the top six and the Jets need points to catch up to Sydney FC.

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