Newcastle continues to be the surprise packets of the competition but they face their toughest test when they host Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

Fri, 28 Oct, 12:00 AM

NEWCASTLE V SYDNEY FC Saturday afternoon, Mcdonald Homes (Hunter) Stadium

Newcastle continues to be the surprise packets of the competition but they face their toughest test when they host Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

The Sky Blues are ladder leaders after three rounds with a perfect record while the Jets have Draws either side of a crushing win over Brisbane.

Newcastle is one of three unbeaten teams left in the competition with Perth and Sydney being the others.

Coach Mark Jones would've been desperate to get his side into the sheds at half-time last week after being outclassed by the Wanderers. Facing a 0-2 deficit, the Jets showed their mettle by responding with a pair of their own with the equalizer coming in the dying minutes.

The Jets from last season wouldn't have done that so that goes to show how much they have improved.

Sydney FC were stifled for the most part by Wellington last week but managed to get find a late winner courtesy of Milos Ninkovic.

It was their seventh straight win across all competitions and a defining hallmark of that streak has been their defence.

They have kept seven clean sheets and are the only team in the A-league not to concede a goal this season.

Newcastle hasn't had the best of time against Sydney FC in recent years, having not beaten them since December 2012.

In that time they have been held scoreless on five occasions including each of the past three games.

That doesn't bode well against a Sky Blues outfit that has found their scoring touch this season, averaging three goals a game in the opening weeks.

Making matters that much harder for the Jets is Andrew Nabbout, one of their best players and an influential attacker, came off injured last week and is a doubt here.

While Newcastle has shown fighting qualities that can possibly propel them into the finals, Sydney FC look to have their measure here.

The fact they can score goals from anywhere and have five individual scorers this season suggests they have too much firepower for Hunter-based side.

THE TIP: Sydney FC - with two wins on the road already this season, they need just one more to match their road total from the previous campaign.

1ST GOALSCORER: Filip Holosko. The competition's leading scorer was on the score sheet the last time these teams met

TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5: Go the Unders. An average of just two goals is scored per game between these sides in the last six meetings but that drops to just one goal when you take out a 4-3 result back in April last year

TO SCORE A GOAL: Alex Brosque has a good record against Newcastle, scoring in three of his last four games

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