An interesting clash takes us into Saturday as the Jets host the Victory.
Newcastle will be hoping to maintain pace with the top six with a win here after dropping a 3-2 thriller against Perth last week.
Melbourne, on the other hand, come in to this with a bit of form having dropped three straight before two late goals saw them win a controversial Derby 2-1 over their City rivals.
READY, GET JET, GO!
Newcastle are on track to better their regular season record for goals scored.
Mark Jones’ outfit has scored 26 goals and three more would see them reach their highest total since banging in 34 in the 2013/14 season.
Andrew Nabbout is the signing of the season for the Jets and has contributed heavily in their surprising tilt at the finals. Along with Andrew Hoole and a string of others the Jets have been punching above their weight for the majority of the season.
Although they went to Perth and lost 3-2, they can hold their heads high as they didn’t stop playing until the final whistle. Their attack has been on song of late which will signal danger for the Victory defenders, with the Jets notching two goals or more in eight of their past nine games.
BACK ON TRACK
Kevin Muscat would have been delighted to get the three points last week and even moreso as it was against Melbourne City.
Trailing 1-0 late in the game, Marco Rojas was instrumental in guiding the Victory back into the match as he skinned the City defence to set up Berisha’s opener.
They can consider themselves fortunate as Manny Muscat’s controversial own goal gave them the win just minutes from time.
Winning their first game in four outings still gives the Victory a slim chance of chasing Sydney FC down for the Premier’s Plate.
HOW IT PANS OUT
Both sides know how to attack so we think the goalies will be in for a busy night.
Melbourne Victory has the best attack in the competition and average 2.11 goals per game while Newcastle, who can score goals of their own, concede 1.77 per match which puts them near the bottom of the competition for that stat.
When they met back in Round 13 it was a six-goal slugfest with Victory getting the money. That broke the mould between the sides as their previous five games saw just seven goals scored.
Newcastle represent good value here.
They have been solid at home without being spectacular, winning just three times but drawing on another four occasions from nine games .
This will give them a slight advantage as Victory haven’t been anywhere near as lethal on the road as they have been at home. Still ranked second-best in the competition for away performances, Victory’s goals per game drops from 2.7 at home to 1.5 in away trips.
Does that suggest that Victory are vulnerable on the road? Yes.
Once again Newcastle’s chances of picking up all three points lay with Nabbout, Hoole and Morten Norstrand.
If that trio fire, along with Ma Leilei, then the Jets are a big chance but they will have to contain Marco Rojas and the deadly Besart Berisha on the other end. If those are allowed any free space then it could be curtains quite quickly here.
THE TIP: DRAW – there’s only been one draw in the past six between these sides so we think a share of the points is due
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5: OVERS
1st GOALSCORER: ANDREW HOOLE