Five games, fifteen points to play for, and a spot in the top six still within reach.
Despite defeat at the hands of the Mariners on Saturday evening, Newcastle’s chances of playing in consecutive Hyundai A-League finals series for the first time since 2006-07/2007-08 are still alive.
Ernie Merrick is keeping the faith, declaring that we need ‘three wins… maybe a draw’ from our remaining five to play finals football.
We’ve had a look at the remaining fixtures for both ourselves and the three teams we could potentially overtake, and where those points could come from in order to secure a spot in the six.
Our run home
Ladder: 7th (26 points)
Wellington (A), Wanderers (H), Perth (A), Brisbane (A), Sydney (H)
Our final five sees us take on two teams (Wanderers and Brisbane) below us on the ladder, one we’re chasing (Wellington), and two at the pointy end of the ladder (Perth and Sydney).
Wellington and Perth are traditionally regarded tough road trips for the Jets, but we’ve shown in recent years that they’re not insurmountable with positive results in both cities.
Our record in Brisbane is stellar in recent years – we beat them on both occasions at Suncorp Stadium last season, and boast a win and a draw against them on home turf in 2018/19.
The two home games will be circled as especially significant in the Jets calendar, against the Western Sydney Wanderers (April 6) and Sydney FC (April 27).
We’re two from two against the Wanderers this season, and that good record combined with our proven ability to score against Western Sydney in 2018/19 (seven goals in two games) will bode well.
After what’s long been a tough ask, beating Sydney at home, we managed that in last year’s RAAF Round before a late Nick Cowburn goal secured a point back in Round 4 this season.
In fact, we have a positive record against the Sky Blues at home in recent times – we haven’t lost at McDonald Jones Stadium to Sydney since late 2016.
Adelaide’s run home
Ladder: 6th (31 points)
Mariners (A), Wellington (H), City (A), Victory (H), Brisbane (A)
After losing to Perth Glory last Friday night, Adelaide have a tough run home and will face two of the sides in the mix for a spot in the top six in the form of Wellington and City.
Tough matches against the Mariners and Brisbane bookend their remaining fixtures, where taking three points will be crucial for the Reds if they’re to remain in the six.
Another big one for them is that massive battle with Victory, their penultimate clash of the season.
City’s run home
Ladder: 5th (33 points)
Wanderers (A), Brisbane (H), Adelaide (H), Wellington (A), Mariners (H)
City shocked the competition by cruising to a 2-0 win over Sydney FC on Sunday night, and arguably have the most favourable run home of the four teams battling it out for a spot in the six.
They’ll take on the Wanderers after the international break, followed by Brisbane and finish up the season with a clash against the cellar-dwelling Mariners.
Games in Rounds 25 and 26 against Adelaide and Wellington respectively will be crucial to City’s hopes of remaining in the top six come the end of April.
Wellington’s run home
Ladder: 4th (34 points)
Jets (H), Adelaide (A), Brisbane (A), City (H), Perth (A)
After cruising to a 3-1 win over the Wanderers last weekend, Wellington face the unenviable task of facing off against three of their direct competitors – Newcastle, Adelaide, and City – in the race for the top six.
While they’re eight points clear of seventh place and seemingly assured of a top six spot, their clash with us on March 30 could be a turning point either way.
They’ll take on Brisbane on that run home, but their trip to Perth for the final round of the season could have a massive impact on the final makeup of the Hyundai A-League ladder.