Despite dominating the second half, the Jets were left hoping as the final whistle confirmed their 2-1 loss at the hands of ladder-leaders Melbourne City.
Newcastle hasn’t scored a goal since their third-round win over Wellington, their only salvation on Saturday afternoon coming from a Scott Jamieson own goal.
Newcastle had 13 of their 16 shots in the second half but could still only manage just three on target as the scoring woes continue to build, only scoring a goal per game through their first five matches.
In stark contrast, Melbourne’s attack was on full display. Moving the ball in transition and finding different ways to break through the Jets’ defensive press. Jamie Maclaren completed his audition to be the Socceroos’ main striker, his 57th-minute winner ensuring he scored in every match before the World Cup break.
Newcastle Coach Arthur Papas addressed their issues in front of goal when asked if his team got unlucky in the final third.
“I really don’t believe much in luck when it comes to Football, they had their opportunities and made the most of it,” he said.
“We’ve had great opportunities, is it a luck problem? Or is it a quality issue to make sure you can impact on those chances?
“We’re getting into those situations but we need to score.”
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It was a Michael Weier error that led to the opening goal of the match, a ball over the top from Aiden O’Neill caught him out of position. His diving header missed its mark as Richard van der Venne strolled into an open goal in the 20th minute.
Heads dropped after the goal as City controlled the next minutes and threatened to double their lead. The Jets clawed the game back and started the second half with chance after chance before a soft loss of possession from Jason Hoffmann gave Jamie MacLaren the easiest of tap-ins.
Papas was happy with his side’s ability to remain in the contest despite the defensive lapses.
“The manner of goals can really affect mentality because they were both poor goals. [It was a] very good character to get back in the game and stay focused,” Papas said.
“For 95 percent [of the game] it was a very solid performance, but five percent is a difference. If you’re going to give away those types of goals, it’s going to be hard to beat teams like Melbourne City.
“They are the benchmark team in the league in terms of quality and in terms of intent. We went toe-to-toe with them for the whole game.
“In the end, they did what they had to do to win.”
The Jets have a month off before their season continues on December 11 against the Central Coast Mariners. No squad members in the World Cup side means Papas will have a full roster to put through the wringer during the break.
The Newcastle coach was happy to finally see an admirable performance from the team and says it’s going to be a long month for the boys.
“It was our best performance of the season so far. It’s just bitterly disappointing that a strong performance sees us come away with nothing,” Papas said.
“It’s [going to be] a very important month for us, the preparations for a lot of reasons need to improve.
“I’ll be honest, [this month] is going to be brutal. For us to be successful and play the way that I believe we can, physically things need to improve.
“It’s a lot of preparation, we’re going to play the same amount of games in these four weeks that we did in the three months leading into the season.”
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