WHAT THE ???Do the Glory all of a sudden have an aversion to playing the Central Coast? Having dominated the Mariners in recent years they dropped a 2-0 result to them earlier in the season. Since then the Glory have rattled off eight consecutive games in which they have scored at least one goal, however, they were kept scoreless again by the Mariners last week! To put that into perspective it is the only two times Perth haven’t scored all season while they are the only two clean sheets for the Mariners in the past 45 games.
UNLIKELY FINALISTS?Newcastle has been the surprise packet of the season as very little was expected of them in 2016/17. Sitting in sixth spot on 20 points, they’re just one behind the Glory in fifth spot but have a hungry pack chasing them in the final 10 rounds of the regular season. The Jets caused one of the upsets of the season by beating Melbourne City last week, thanks largely to the efforts of Andrew Nabbout. If they are any hope of winning this then plenty will rest on his and Andrew Hoole’s shoulders.
THE HISTORYNewcastle broke an 11-year drought when they met earlier in the season at this very ground. The Jets’ shock 2-1 win was their first in Perth for over a decade but the Glory were undermanned that day with several injuries to the squad including Diego Castro. Showing the effort was no fluke the Jets then held the Glory to a 2-2 draw just a few weeks ago.
THE VERDICTTravelling to the west isn’t something Newcastle Jets teams in the past have enjoyed so is it too much to ask for them to win twice in Perth in one season? The Jets are playing far better now than they were in this season’s first encounter and there is no doubt they are improving all the time. The key to them is having a healthy first 11 because they don’t have the depth that other teams do. Their surge as a finals contender has coincided with their attack firing on all cylinders, with seven of their past games seeing them net two goals or more. That is going to be a worry for Perth who are without goalkeeper Liam Reddy for this one after he was sent off last week. Reddy has arguably been their best player this season and has kept them in the contest on a number of occasions. We think both goalies will be in for a busy night as Perth’s attack ranks third in the league (1.64gpg) only behind Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, however, their defence is the second-worst in the league as well (1.94gpg). Perth being at home definitely have the advantage but the loss of Reddy and the fact the Jets are playing with an air of confidence suggests this one will go down to the wire.
THE TIP: Draw
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5 Overs
1ST GOALSCORER Andrew Nabbout