Heskey and co to be tested by Mariners' defence

Gary van Egmond says the Jets are expecting a tough encounter against the Mariners in Saturday’s F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond says the Jets are expecting a tough encounter against the Central Coast Mariners in Saturday-s F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium.

Van Egmond pinpointed the battle between Jets forwards Emile Heskey and Ryan Griffiths and Mariners defenders Patrick Zwaanswijk and Trent Sainsbury as crucial in the outcome of the match.

“That contest will go quite a way to determining who wins the game,” he said.

“The Mariners the most thrifty team in the A-League when it comes to giving goals away. Graham Arnold prides his team on defence and he preys on the mistakes of the opposition.

“Zwaanswijk has been playing very, very well and you-ve got the likes of Sainsbury coming through. They-ve got a future national team player in Trent Sainsbury who had a sterling game last week.

“They-ve got some young ones, but they-re very good and they-ll be very hard to break down.”

However, van Egmond was confident that the Jets- forward line, lead by Heskey, could prove to be just as potent as they were against Sydney FC last weekend, provided they maintained a balance attack.

“We have to make sure we get the balance of playing direct to Emile and controlling the game,” van Egmond explained.

“There-s going to be times where it-s a great reliever of pressure when you can knock a ball up to someone like Emile and he can hold the ball up.

“There-s other times when that-s not really on and he gets isolated and that-s not the time to do it.

“We have to be better in regards to controlling the game and that-s up to us to get into positions earlier and to ensure that we still look to control the game from the backline, through the midfield and obviously into the opposition half.”

He said the impact that Heskey had made on the Jets- attack could not be underestimated.

“For us it-s fantastic because he just has that real presence up front that the other players really feed off,” van Egmond said.

“They talk about how well Craig Goodwin did, how well Ryan Griffiths did and how well young James Virgili did and a few others, but a lot that is the work that Emile does to create that space for these players and hopefully that can continue.”

Van Egmond said the importance of winning Saturday-s F3 Derby will be built up inside the Jets camp as the match draws closer.

“We haven-t really spoke much about it, but we-ll rev it up now,” he said.

“It-s a derby and it should be treated as such. It-s at our place, so we have to make sure we take the initiative. They-re very similar to Cup Finals if you like.

“I know the Mariners pride themselves a lot on the derby and we definitely do the same.”

Van Egmond said a big turn up of Jets Members and supporters could be an important factor in spurring Newcastle to victory.

“We played some entertaining football last week and I think our Members and supporters should be really buoyed by the performance of last week,” he said.

“The Mariners have always been very consistent in getting into the finals so they-re a quality team.

“It should be a very entertaining game and we-re very hopeful that we do get that big crowd.”

Match Details: F3 Derby Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners Hunter Stadium Saturday, October 20 Kick-off at 5.30pm (gates open 4.30pm) Tickets from PROticket

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