McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle is back in the finals for the first time since 2009-10. And you would back the Jets against almost any opponent this week – other than Melbourne City. City has had a hold over the Jets all season and especially so in the Hunter Valley. City came from behind to win 2-1 in wet conditions back on December 2, while earlier this month City wiped the floor with the out of sorts Jets, winning 3-0 on April 1. The other time these two sides played was on January 25, with Newcastle escaping with a 2-2 draw after a last ditch clearance off the line denied Ross McCormack the winner in the dying seconds.
After locking in a top two spot with several rounds to play, Ernie Merrick’s side went off the boil late in the campaign, losing to Adelaide (5-2), City and Perth (2-0). But a confidence-boosting 8-2 thumping of Central Coast sent the Jets into their week off with renewed vigour, while news that captain Nigel Boogaard and star attacker Ronald Vargas will return from injury is a further boost. City, meanwhile, is in as good a patch of form as it has been in all season, winning three of its last four games before easily accounting for Brisbane in last week’s elimination final.
Head-to-head history seems to count for a lot in the A-League. And so while the Jets would be many neutral’s preference to see advance to the Grand Final, City has a golden chance to continue its winning run over the Jets and make it through to a first title decider.
Best Bet: City to qualify @ $2.03*
Value bet: City win, both teams to score @ $4.33*