Melbourne City FC will look to record its third consecutive Hyundai A-League win when John van’t Schip’s side take on the Newcastle Jets. Here is the lowdown on Scott Miller’s side ahead of Sunday’s clash at Hunter Stadium.
Counter-attacking Jets hit turbulence
After a promising start to the Hyundai A-League season, the Newcastle Jets’ recent form has somewhat curtailed, with Scott Miller’s side slipping down to seventh position on the league table on the back of a difficult month of fixtures.
The Jets have not registered a victory since their stunning come-from-behind 3-2 win over Melbourne City FC in Round 4, only collecting three points from their last five league fixtures.
They went down the following week against Western Sydney at Hunter Stadium, drew consecutive matches against Central Coast (1-1), Adelaide (0-0) and Brisbane (1-1), before conceding a late goal in a 1-0 loss to Sydney FC in Round 9.
Since the AAMI Park comeback, the Jets have only found the back of the net on three occasions, while City have taken 10 points and scored 15 goals in the same period.
A resolute defensive structure continues to underpin the Jets counter-attacking game plan, and Miller’s side will undoubtedly prove to be a difficult unit to break down.
Birighitti in the Socceroos spotlight
Only a month ago, Mark Birighitti lay sprawled out on the turf of Hunter Stadium with blood pouring from his mouth, after a sickening collision with Sydney FC’s Shane Smeltz left him without three of his teeth.
Fast forward to now, and the Newcastle number one is arguably the in-form goalkeeper of the Hyundai A-League, producing a series of displays reminiscent of the form that once earned him a spot in the Socceroos squad.
A noteworthy performance came in the goalless draw against Adelaide United in Round 7, when an inspired Birighitti produced one of the best individual goalkeeping displays of the season, repelling a wave of Reds attacks with a number of stunning saves.
The Newcastle shot-stopper leads the competition in saves with 33 – three more than City ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen – and is now faced with the task of repelling the threat of in-form attackers Bruno Fornaroli, Harry Novillo and Aaron Mooy.
Carney the key in attack
It has been former Socceroos defender David Carney who has been the key cog in the Jets’ resurgence under Head Coach Miller this season.
Revelling in an advanced role on the right side of midfield, Carney has played a part in five of Newcastle’s 10 goals this season – with two goals and three assists – and has created 18 goal-scoring chances in the final-third.
The 32-year-old may lack the pace required of a traditional winger, but makes up for it with his superb crossing ability, killer left-boot and his ability to dribble past defenders in one-on-one situation.
Trifunovic amongst the goals.
With a goal-scoring record of approximately a goal every three games over the past five years of his career, Milos Trifunovic has made a positive start to life in the Hyundai A-League.
The Serbian striker is the Jets’ leading scorer with four goals in eight matches, and will be brimming with confidence after netting a match-winning double against City in Round 4 this season.
A physical presence in the final-third, Trifunovic’s willingness to attack the space in-behind the defence suits Newcastle’s counter-attacking style of play, while his intelligent movement in the penalty area makes him a dangerous threat from set-pieces and crosses.
Last Time We Met
Melbourne City FC 2-3 Newcastle Jets, Hyundai A-League, Round 4.
In a topsy-turvy encounter at AAMI Park, John van’t Schip’s side appeared to be cruising to a second consecutive win when Aaron Mooy and Stefan Mauk fired City into a 2-0 first-half lead.
But a gallant Jets outfit rallied in the second half as Ben Kantarovski pulled a goal back, before Milos Trifunovic equalised from the penalty spot after Wade Dekker was penalised for handball.
The Serbian striker would then be the hero for Newcastle, heading home the winner from David Carney’s set-piece to put an end to City’s eleven match unbeaten home record in all competitions.
- Both Melbourne City FC and Newcastle Jets have scored four goals from headers this season; the most of any team in the Hyundai A-League.
- The last time Newcastle Jets won two Hyundai A-League matches against Melbourne City in a calendar year was 2013.
- Melbourne City FC have won three and drawn one of its last six matches against Newcastle.
- Melbourne City FC have now scored five goals on four occasions, one of which was against the Jets (30/12/14).
- Milos Trifunovic has scored two headed goals this Hyundai A-League season, one of only two players to do so – the other being City midfielder Erik Paartalu.
- City’s Harry Novillo has an average of 4.2 shots at goal per game, the most of any player in the Hyundai A-League by more than a shot (3 – Roar’s Jamie Maclaren).
- Newcastle Jets have only managed 56 shots on target this season; the lowest of any side in the Hyundai A-League.
- Not only have Melbourne City FC managed the most shots on goal (110), but they’ve also got the best shooting accuracy (50.9%) of any team so far this season.