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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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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Undermanned Jets see off City

Newcastle Jets ended their best week of the season with a gutsy 3-1 win over Melbourne City, thanks to quality finishes from two substitutes.

Joey Champness and Roy O'Donovan netted in a four-minute spell in the second half to take Ernie Merrick's side within six points of the Finals Series places.

The Jets were undermanned for the clash, which came sandwiched between two Asian Champions League qualifiers.

But despite making seven changes to their starting side they saw off the visitors at McDonald Jones Stadium for a third victory in five games.

Jair put the Jets ahead in the 22nd minute, with City's new signing Jamie Maclaren levelling with his second goal in as many games.

Champness, playing just his second game of the season, beat keeper Eugene Galekovic to finish off a speedy move and Irish striker O'Donovan wrapped up the victory.

With Merrick resting several stars, including Dimi Petratos, Ronny Vargas and Nigel Boogaard, he gave Brazilian Jair a start after three games on the bench.

He repaid the coach's faith when he gave the hosts a shock lead with a powerful header from Johnny Koutroumbis' cross.

Maclaren, who had fired just wide in the first half, equalised when he turned home Luke Brattan's low cross 10 minutes after the restart.

City knew they'd return to the top four if they secured the win, but it was Newcastle's fresh legs that made the difference.

Just five minutes after coming on, Champness slipped the ball past Galekovic after Jair and O'Donovan had linked up.

And Champness helped set up the third Jets goal when he fed the ball through for O'Donovan who netted for the sixth time this season.

Melbourne City are 12/5 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 21/20 with the draw 5/2.

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Jets win after extra time

Newcastle Jets have made it past the first hurdle in their bid to qualify for the Asian Champions League after beating Indonesian side Persija Jakarta 3-1.

Last year's A-League runners-up won through thanks to two goals in extra time at Hunter Stadium. But blocking their path to the group stages are Kashima Antlers, who Ernie Merrick's side need to beat in next week's play-off in Japan.

Ronny Vargas netted his second goal in the space of six days to put Newcastle ahead four minutes into the second half. Persija levelled 18 minutes from time with a header from Rizky Ramdani Lestaluhu, before the Jets netted in each half of extra time.

Roy O'Donovan just failed to finish off Daniel Georgievski's cross and Nigel Boogaard and Kaine Sheppard had other chances for Newcastle in the first half of normal time as Merrick's team dominated.

Vargas broke the deadlock from close range, finishing off a quick counter-attack that had seen Sheppard and O'Donovan combine.

They continued to create chances but were punished for their inability to convert when Lestaluhu headed home from a set-piece.

That forced the match into extra time, with skipper Boogaard restoring Newcastle's lead 11 minutes into the first half when he fired home after being left free at the far post. Substitute Matthew Ridenton headed home powerfully in the dying stages to ensure their victory.

The Jets could have done without being forced into an extra 30 minutes, given that they will take on Melbourne City on Friday and then have to fly out to face Kashima next Tuesday.

Newcastle are 12/5 to beat Melbourne City, who are 21/20 with the draw 5/2. The Jets are 9/1 to win 1-0.

Jets hand Wanderers home thrashing

Roy O'Donovan scored twice as Newcastle Jets thrashed woeful Western Sydney 5-1 at ANZ Stadium.

The Irish striker followed up after keeper Vedran Janjetovic saved his first-half penalty, scoring a goal to put the visitors 3-0 up.

O'Donovan netted with another penalty after the break, with Newcastle's other goals coming from Dimitri Petratos, Jason Hoffman and Matthew Ridenton.

New signing Mitchell Duke scored just 19 seconds into his debut when coming off the bench for Wanderers, but it did little to restore morale as they were already five goals down.

The defeat stretches Markus Babbel's side's winless run to seven games.

The opener from Petratos on 18 minutes was the pick of the goals as he curled his shot into the top corner from the edge of the area.

It was soon 2-0 as Hoffman was able to take advantage after a Daniel Georgevski shot ricocheted right back to his feet.

Just before the break Wanderers conceded a penalty when youngster Marc Tokich was ruled to have brought down Ronald Vargas.

Though Janjetovic made a good save from the spot-kick, the ball rebounded straight back to O'Donovan to give the Jets a commanding half-time advantage.

Ridenton made it 4-0 when he poked into an empty net after Janjetovic failed to parry a Petratos outswinging cross.

Tokic gave away his second penalty of the night when he fouled Hoffman in the area, and this time O'Donovan's shot was into the bottom corner just beyond the dive of the keeper.

Duke pulled a goal back and made a good first impression on his new fans when he headed home from an acute angle.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC are 19/20 to take care of Melbourne City on Sunday. The visitors are 3/1 while the draw is 5/2.

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O’Donovan riled by Jets loss

Though happy to get back on the scoresheet, Newcastle Jets striker Roy O'Donovan was left frustrated after his side sent down 2-1 at home to Adelaide United.

Ernie Merrick's team had the chance to end 2018 in the A-League Finals Series places, but failed to back up their victory last time out in the F3 derby against Central Coast Mariners.

O'Donovan netted with a header at McDonald Jones Stadium in the second half, but Newcastle were denied a share of the spoils when Craig Goodwin netted from the penalty spot in injury time.

The Irish striker had the consolation of scoring his first goal since the final round of last season, having only just completed a suspension handed out for his sending-off in the Grand Final loss to Melbourne Victory.

The Jets have taken more shots than any other team in the competition but boast a meagre return of 10 goals. They had 27 shots against Adelaide but still lost.

O'Donovan said: "The result kills you; I thought we played well and controlled the game. Paul Izzo was superb for them, made a couple of great saves."

The winner was conceded by Nigel Boogaard's challenge on Ryan Kitto in the area, and O'Donovan said: "I don't think we deserved to lose, but that's football. As soon as we scored I didn't see us losing the game."

O'Donovan, who scored nine goals in 15 starts for the Jets last season, added: "It's one of those, we have to back him up because he's been brilliant all year, it's frustrating for him, it's frustrating for us."

The Jets are 10/11 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 8/13, with the draw 13/5.

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O’Donovan: We didn’t deserve to lose

Though happy to get back on the scoresheet, Newcastle Jets striker Roy O'Donovan was left frustrated after his side sent down 2-1 at home to Adelaide United.

Ernie Merrick's team had the chance to end 2018 in the A-League Finals Series places, but failed to back up their victory last time out in the F3 derby against Central Coast Mariners.

O'Donovan netted with a header at McDonald Jones Stadium in the second half, but Newcastle were denied a share of the spoils when Craig Goodwin netted from the penalty spot in injury time.

The Irish striker had the consolation of scoring his first goal since the final round of last season, having only just completed a suspension handed out for his sending-off in the Grand Final loss to Melbourne Victory.

The Jets have taken more shots than any other team in the competition but boast a meagre return of 10 goals. They had 27 shots against Adelaide but still lost.

O'Donovan said: "The result kills you; I thought we played well and controlled the game. Paul Izzo was superb for them, made a couple of great saves."

The winner was conceded by Nigel Boogaard's challenge on Ryan Kitto in the area, and O'Donovan said: "I don't think we deserved to lose, but that's football. As soon as we scored I didn't see us losing the game."

O'Donovan, who scored nine goals in 15 starts for the Jets last season, added: "It's one of those, we have to back him up because he's been brilliant all year, it's frustrating for him, it's frustrating for us."

The Jets are 10/11 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 8/13, with the draw 13/5.

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Merrick: O’Donovan can cope with return

Returning striker Roy O'Donovan will be able to cope with being in the spotlight when he plays his first match of the season, feels Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick.

O'Donovan was involved in arguably the most contentious incident of last season, when he was sent off in the Grand Final against Melbourne Victory.

The Irishman was dismissed for kicking keeper Lawrence Thomas, and has served a 10-match suspension – the second-longest in A-League history.

He's likely to step back in against his former club Central Coast on Sunday.

Being with a rival club, after he had top-scored for the Mariners in each of his two seasons in Gosford, will ensure he comes under increased scrutiny at Central Coast Stadium.

Merrick, though, says he doesn't want the 33-year-old forward to change his style, and feels sure he has the mental strength to see him through.

"Roy knows the (Mariners) fans will be into him, but that's all part of the sport, but he thrives on that sort of stress and pressure," added the coach.

"I think Roy will need to have mental strength in the game because he isn't really match-fit up to A-League standard. There will be a lot going through his mind, but out of all of the players he's the one that can cope with it."

The game will also be a big one from the Mariners' point of view as they have yet to pick up their first win after eight rounds.

They've made the worst start to a season in league history, including losing their last six matches, but Merrick expects them to raise their game in the F2 derby.

"The Mariners are no easy team to push over," he said. "I know that they haven't had good results, but they've still got some good quality players, so it will be a tough match down there."

Newcastle are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Jets are 5/6 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 3/1 with the draw 11/4.

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O’Donovan available after ban

Newcastle Jets are set for a pre-Christmas boost by bringing back import striker Roy O'Donovan for their derby clash with Central Coast next weekend.

The inconsistent Jets have been without the Irishman since the start of the season but he's now served out his 10-match ban.

O'Donovan was handed the second-longest suspension in A-League history for serious foul play in the Jets' Grand Final defeat to Melbourne Victory last season.

He's available again now and coach Ernie Merrick is ready to put the 33-year-old back in from the start when Newcastle go to Gosford on Sunday to take on the winless Mariners.

The Jets are seeking a rebound after Sunday's frustrating 2-0 home defeat to Perth Glory. They have alternated wins and losses over the past four rounds.

O'Donovan will be making his return at his former home, with the striker having scored 19 goals in 45 games for Central Coast before joining Newcastle last year.

Merrick said the forward had been covering plenty of distance in intra-club games.

"The distances he's covered in high-intensity areas, is 20 kilometres above our break-in records at the club," said the coach. "Believe me – he's lost weight, he's super-fit (and) he's very highly motivated to come back, so he's probably coming back at the right time."

The Jets have managed only seven goals in the first eight games this season, which is just one better than the Mariners who now own the record for the worst start in the league's history – they have picked up just two points so far.

Although Merrick's side had 22 shots against Perth they only managed to get six on target.

The coach admitted it had been hard for them to break down the Glory, who have gone through the first eight rounds unbeaten.

"The final pass became frustrating for our players but you can understand there's eight players in front of them and they'd left two up," added Merrick.

"It's very hard to get past eight players camped on the 18-yard box. I'm not criticising their coaching method – they did what they had to do and that's why they're the top of the league."

Newcastle are 12/1 to win the Grand Final and 1/1 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 5/2 with the draw 13/5.

Skipper comes to O’Donovan defence

Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard defended teammate Roy O'Donovan after the Irish striker was sent off in the 1-0 Grand Final defeat to Melbourne Victory.

O'Donovan was shown a straight red card two minutes from full time at McDonald Jones Stadium, after his studs made contact with the face of Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas.

Boogaard believes O'Donovan was making a genuine attempt to get to the ball, as the Jets sought a late equaliser to Kosta Barbarouses' early goal.

"To be honest with you, from where I was – and I was right behind it – the ball's in the air, he's sticking a foot at it," he said.

"It's a grand final, there's five minutes to go, and Lawrence Thomas has come out and been brave.

"To be honest I would have stuck a foot at it; all those players in the opposition team, if they were 1-0 down would have thrown themselves at the ball as well. Yeah, it looked ugly but I guarantee you Roy had eyes on the ball."

The Jets missed out on the chance to become the first team in any sporting code in Australia to go from wooden spooners to champions in the space of a year.

They fell victim to a software error in the VAR system, which meant that Barbarouses' goal was not disallowed for offside when that was the correct decision.

Meanwhile, Victory striker Besart Berisha has hinted his time in Australia may be up.

Berisha, who is the A-League's all-time record goalscorer, picked up a winners' medal for the fourth time in a Grand Final.

He won the title twice in three years with Brisbane before joining Kevin Muscat's side.

Since his arrival he's won a premiership, an FFA Cup and now two championships.

Berisha has one year remaining on his marquee contract with Victory but raised suggestions he will not see that out.

Asked about that issue, he replied: "I ask you guys this question now, what else is to win in A-League for me?"

Meanwhile, Australia are 20/1 to win Group C at the 2018 World Cup.

The Socceroos are 1/1 to finish bottom of the group.

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