Jets hand Brisbane heaviest home loss

Newcastle Jets ran riot against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, handing the home side a 6-1 hammering.

Roy O'Donovan and Joey Champness both scored twice in the penultimate round clash between two sides who have failed to make the A-League Finals Series.

It was Brisbane's record home defeat and confirmed that the Roar will finish next to bottom in the table.

The Jets, who made it five consecutive wins over Brisbane, took control with two goals in a four-minute period midway through the first half.

Winger Champness sliced open the right side of the Roar's defence before cutting inside firing a shot that was deflected into the corner of the net.

The youngster then went around the outside of Daniel Leck to tee up O'Donovan's instinctive finish.

Jamie Young made a good save from Angus Thurgate to keep Newcastle from adding to their tally before the interval.

Darren Davies' team pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half when 18-year-old Jack Duncan followed up to net after keeper Lewis Italiano had failed to hold a fierce Dylan Wenzel-Halls strike.

Six minutes later O'Donovan had his second of the night when he headed home Ivan Vujica's cross, and the visitors scored twice more in a three-minute spell.

Kaine Sheppard's left-footed strike deflected in off the head of Dimitri Petratos to make it 4-1 and Champness tapped in to complete his double.

Substitute Kwabena Appiah-Kubi rounded off the scoring in added time, tucking away a one-on-one.

It was a particularly disappointing night for the Roar given that they hoped to send captain Matt McKay off into retirement on a positive note.

McKay will make his final appearance in the final round clash at home to Adelaide United.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 13/10 to win the Grand Final. Sydney FC are priced at 2/1 with Melbourne Victory 5/1.

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Glory clinch minor premiership

Ivan Franjic's second-half goal gave Perth a 1-0 home victory over Newcastle Jets which earned Glory the A-League Premiers' Plate.

Sydney FC's failure to win the Sydney derby the previous day meant Tony Popovic's team had the chance to clinch their maiden premiership with a win in front of their own fans at HBF Park.

Franjic scored midway through the second half to deliver the club's first piece of silverware since they won the NSL championship in 2004, while they will also get a place in next season's Asian Champions League.

Newcastle's defeat ended their hopes of making the Finals Series, with the top six now set ahead of the final two rounds of the regular season.

The Jets gave Perth two early scares, first when striker Roy O'Donovan fired an audacious 33-metre dipping volley that looped over keeper Liam Reddy, but crashed against the crossbar.

O'Donovan was then denied a goal when, after latching onto Ivan Vujica's cross to send the ball home, referee Kurt Ams sent the decision to the VAR and replays showed the Irishman had been slightly offside.

Andy Keogh thumped a shot against the Jets bar from close range five minutes before the break as he met Joel Chianese's low cross from the right.

Perth, who saw midfielder Juande limp off with a knee injury on the half-hour mark, were denied a first-half penalty by the VAR and had goals ruled out for offside twice in the space of four minutes in the second half.

Franjic finally broke the deadlock when he latched onto a superb through pass from Diego Costa and drilled the ball through the legs of keeper Glen Moss.

The Glory are 2/1 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 11/8, with the draw 9/4.

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Wanderers hurt rivals’ chances

Western Sydney all but killed off Sydney FC's chances of winning the A-League Premier's Plate when they held the Sky Blues to a 1-1 draw in the derby at ANZ Stadium.

With Steve Corica's men needing victory to give themselves any realistic chance of catching Perth Glory and winning the premiership for the third consecutive season, it was their rivals who arguably were deserving of three points.

They conceded the opening goal to Alex Brosque's powerful low strike seven minutes into the game, but after Alexander Baumjohann levelled they looked the more likely team to grab a winning goal.

Their fans celebrated at the final whistle as though they had won, and coach Markus Babbel felt happy with the performance.

"They [the fans] have been through a lot this season," he said. "I think today they deserved a performance and I am very happy that the boys could bring a performance today."

Adam le Fondre forced a turnover which started the move that put the Sky Blues in front.

Anthony Caceres then burst through the middle and picked out skipper Brosque, who fired home his sixth goal against Wanderers from just outside the area.

Wanderers forward Mitchell Duke had two chances to level midway through the half, with keeper Andrew Redmayne saving his first effort and Duke then spurning another from a Baumjohann free kick.

A foul by Brandon O'Neill on Roly Bonevacia gave Wanderers the chance to equalise on 57 minutes.

Baumjohann struck his free kick from just outside the box low and hard and saw the ball deflect past Redmayne for Western Sydney's first goal against their rivals in four games.

The home side were unlucky to see Oriol Riera's header rebound off the woodwork, and late on substitute Abraham Majok beat the offside trap to home in on goal but missed from close range with only Redmayne to beat.

The Sky Blues are 66/1 to win the Asian Champions League Grand Final with Al-Hilal 7/1 and Kashima Antlers priced at 8/1.

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Thurgate’s first goal in Jets win

Teenager Angus Thurgate claimed his first A-League goal to give Newcastle Jets a 3-2 win over Western Sydney.

The home side ended a two-game losing streak and backed up coach Ernie Merrick's decision to turn to youth for the final four rounds.

With their chances of a Finals Series spot all but gone, Merrick had indicated he would build for the future.

He handed Thurgate his first appearance since round 19 and saw the 19-year-old decide the game when he buried a shot into the top corner with eight minutes left.

He swooped on a loose ball after the Wanderers defence had failed to clear the danger.

It came eight minutes after the visitors had equalised thanks to Keanu Baccus' fierce strike that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Oriol Riera thought he had put the visitors in front in the seventh minute when he slotted home a rebound but was flagged for offside.

Rashid Mahazi put Wanderers ahead just before the interval at McDonald Jones Stadium, heading home past a static defence.

Irish striker Roy O'Donovan, having missed a golden chance in the first half, brought the Jets level on 63 minutes with a powerful shot.

The Jets took the lead soon after with a freakish goal from a corner. Dimitri Petratos curled the ball in and keeper Vedran Janjetovic, caught out at his near post, could only push the ball into the net.

The win completed a first clean sweep for the Jets against Wanderers following a 2-0 triumph in round five and 5-1 rout in round 17.

But Merrick had some consoling words for his opposite number Markus Babbel.

"He is a good coach and when he puts his mark on the team by signing the type of players he wants, and when they move into the new training premises and he gets money for a big marquee player, I think they will do really well," he said. "Hopefully we are up there with them next year."

"We will start building now for next year and we have some good talent out there."

Western Sydney are 7/2 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 7/10 with the draw 3/1.

Wanderers are 16/1 to win 1-0.

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Merrick looking to youngsters

Newcastle Jets head coach Ernie Merrick will turn to youth for the rest of the A-League season.

The Jets, who reached the Grand Final last year after finishing runners-up in the league, will change tack after seeing their top-six hopes virtually ended.

Defeats in their last two games to Central Coast and Wellington have left Merrick's side seven points off the Finals Series places.

It would take an unlikely series of results for them to catch either Melbourne City or Adelaide United over the final four rounds.

So, Merrick aims to see what his younger players can do over the rest of the campaign and Joey Champness is in contention to start against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, as is Angus Thurgate.

Merrick may give a chance to Australia U17 international Jack Simmons against Wanderers – he would be the third-youngest debutant in the club's history if he makes the team.

The Jets have Johnny Koutroumbis and Ivan Vujica available again after they returned from a fortnight in Cambodia with the Olyroos squad.

Merrick said: "The focus is, we've got four games to play, we'll be looking at some youngsters. We've got 17 players signed, out of those 17 the average age is pretty young, and up-and-coming.

"To have 17 players to coach for another year and build on that, I think we're in a good position and there's a lot of good, young talent here…our bench will change slightly to give them a chance."

Speaking of the club's league position, Merrick said: "When you're in a situation of waiting for other teams to lose matches, I don't think you're in a good place. I can't see anyone losing that many games, two more games than us."

Newcastle Jets are 10/11 to win their game against Western Sydney, who are 5/2, with the draw 3/1.

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Rudan future key to striker’s decision

David Williams admits his future at Wellington Phoenix is likely to hinge on whether coach Mark Rudan is staying.

The striker has been offered a new contract by the club, but hasn't decided whether to accept it – at least in part because Rudan may be leaving at the end of the season.

The coach has been heavily linked with Western United, who are entering the A-League next season.

Williams is one of 15 players coming off-contract at Wellington at the end of the current campaign.

The 31-year-old Australian has scored eight times this season and formed an effective partnership with Fiji international Roy Krishna.

Golden Boot leader Krishna is another of the players whose deals are expiring in May.

Williams, who has a second child on the way, said: "I've still got a big decision on what I'm doing next season but with that in mind I'd like to have something sorted soon just for knowing where we are going to be and where we are going to have the baby, but obviously I haven't signed anywhere yet.

"I would like to know who is the coach of the club before I sign somewhere because then you look at what the club's philosophy is, what the coach's style of play is, is he attacking or a defending type coach, is he a motivator and things like that.

"Definitely I think it's a big part. I came to this club not for a financial move but for a football move, but depending on what is offered to me in the future I'll make my decision on what is best for my family and also taking consideration into who coaches are."

The fourth-place Phoenix will be without Krishna through suspension when they take on Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

Sarpreet Singh and Steven Taylor are set to return from suspension and injury respectively.

Wellington Phoenix are 25/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 23/20 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 9/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Merrick says victory essential

Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick says even one more defeat in the final five games would effectively end his team's chances of a Finals Series spot.

Though last season's beaten Grand Finalists had gone on a five-game unbeaten run before the F3 Derby at home to Central Coast last time out, the 3-2 defeat they suffered to the Mariners was a big blow to their chances.

They are five points behind sixth-placed Adelaide United, and three of their remaining matches are on the road.

Newcastle go to Wellington Phoenix on Saturday and next month have consecutive away games against leaders Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar.

Merrick, speaking ahead of the meeting with his former team, said: "It really is a critical game for us. It's all or nothing from now on; we've just got to win and that's what we intend to do, and we've got the players to do it."

The defeat to Central Coast was a shock, given that the visitors had only won one of their previous 21 games this season.

Merrick said he had spoken to his senior players about demanding higher standards for the rest of the campaign.

"It's about efficiency, about scoring goals and there's no second chances anymore," he added. "If we lose another game, I think we would really struggle."

Midfielder Ronald Vargas will miss the Wellington game after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Merrick says he felt the former Venezuela international had returned to action too soon against the Mariners, but he expects him to be in contention for the Round 24 clash at home to Western Sydney.

Newcastle Jets are 5/1 to finish in the top six.

The Jets are 9/4 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 23/20 with the draw 12/5.

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Merrick backs Jets to make top six

Another 10 points from their last five games will give Newcastle Jets a good chance of playing in the A-League Finals Series, coach Ernie Merrick believes.

Last season's beaten Grand Finalists missed the chance to close the gap on the top six at the weekend when they lost 3-2 at home to bottom side Central Coast.

Had they won the F3 derby at McDonald Jones Stadium they would have been just two points behind sixth-placed Adelaide United.

Instead they have a five-point gap to make up over the final five rounds, three of which will be on the road.

Merrick has remained confident throughout the season that the Jets will claim a top-six spot, and the defeat to the Mariners hasn't changed that.

"It makes it tougher, but what I said to the boys right from the start is that it isn't all about this [Mariners] game," said the coach. "That still stands, but we've now only got five games to win three, and maybe get a draw … it's not impossible."

The Jets run-in sees them travel to two sides in the top six – they go to Wellington Phoenix on 30th March for their next match and will take on leaders Perth Glory on 14th April.

Merrick was disappointed with his team's display against the Mariners, who were playing their first game under interim coach Alen Stajcic.

"We had the bulk of the play, we had 24 shots to five, out of those 24 there were eight or nine really quality chances to score goals but didn't take our chances, he said. "We lost the game in the first half and we didn't get any better in the second half, we only played 15 minutes of good football."

Newcastle Jets are 5/1 to finish in the top six.

The Jets are 9/4 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 23/20 with the draw 12/5.

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Stajcic salutes Mariners spirit

Interim coach Alen Stajcic feels it was tiredness, rather than nerves, that almost caused Central Coast Mariners to surrender a three-goal lead in their 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets.

The Gosford club took the honours in the F3 derby at McDonald Jones Stadium, claiming just their second win of the season.

It came in the wake of them sacking Mike Mulvey as coach following the 8-2 thrashing at home to Wellington Phoenix the previous weekend.

Stajcic, who has been appointed until the end of the season, praised the team for their effort against a Jets team battling for a Final Series spot.

"To see the spirit and the effort and the way the lads went about their work, you could see they were fighting and scrapping for every moment; trying to win every ball, every challenge," said the former Matildas coach.

Stajcic said the players had given everything in terms of energy, effort and fortitude, and also felt they did well mentally.

The Mariners scored three goals in a 16-minute spell in the second half, and still had that 3-0 advantage with 16 minutes left.

The coach said he had watched them in a number of games this season where they had dominated but gone on to concede two or three goals in a hurry.

They conceded twice in the space of seven minutes this time, with Roy O'Donovan and Ronny Vargas on the scoresheet.

But, thanks to the heroics of keeper Ben Kennedy in saving an injury-time penalty from O'Donovan – a spot-kick that had to be retaken following encroachment – Stajcic's team held on to pick up the three points.

He said of their habit of conceding goals quickly: "It's something the team needs to address in terms of tactical shape and mentality as well. I think they did that tonight; I think it was fatigue more than mentality.

"I'm really pleased with them and I know it'll be a big relief for them to overcome the dark places they felt they were in during the week."

Central Coast are 17/4 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 4/7 with the draw 16/5.

The Mariners are 18/1 to win 1-0.

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Kennedy saves clinch win

Keeper Ben Kennedy's two late penalty saves helped Central Coast cause an F3 Derby shock with a 3-2 win away to Newcastle Jets.

Kennedy faced a penalty in injury time at McDonald Jones Stadium that would have earned the Jets a point, after Irish striker Roy O'Donovan was fouled in the area by Jonathan Aspropotamitis.

He dived to his left to block O'Donovan's spot-kick, but Daniel Georgievski followed up to poke the ball home.

Georgievski, though, was one of several players who had encroached into the area before O'Donovan had made connection with his penalty so the kick had to be retaken.

Kennedy was again the hero, making a similar save to his left to deny O'Donovan and secure just Central Coast's second win of the season.

The Mariners were in dreamland after taking a 3-0 lead against their derby rivals, with goals from Jordan Murray, Connor Pain and Jem Karacan.

Playing their first game under interim coach Alen Stajcic, the visitors went ahead nine minutes into the second half as Matthew Millar sent Murray behind the defence and he squeezed his shot under Glen Moss.

Millar's cross was deflected into the path of Karacan who thundered the ball home for the second goal on 64 minutes and it was quickly 3-0 as Murray and Jack Clisby combined to set up Pain.

O'Donovan scored against his former club to give them some hope seven minutes later, and the Mariners lead was reduced further when Nigel Boogaard's shot was parried by Kennedy against Ronald Vargas and into the net.

Newcastle were denied at the end as a Kaine Sheppard shot was blocked on the line by Sam Graham.

Newcastle Jets are 9/4 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 23/20 with the draw 12/5.

The Jets are 12/1 to win 1-0.

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