Jets bouyed by back-to-back clean sheets

Craig Deans believes the Jets’ strong defensive displays have given the team a solid platform to build their season around.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets assistant coach Craig Deans believes the Jets- strong defensive displays have given the team a solid platform to build their season around.

Although the Jets have failed to score this season, back to back clean sheets against Perth and Wellington have given the team confidence heading into the first F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.

“I think it-s fair criticism if you want to call it that, that we haven-t scored a goal,” Deans said. “Goals win you games and it-s something that we do work on a lot.

“At the same time to have what looks to be quite a solid defensive structure at the moment which is something that is pleasing as far as the coaches go and it-s something that we can build on.”

The Jets were unfortunate not to score against Wellington on the weekend after Ruben Zadkovich hit the crossbar with a well taken free kick and Scott Neville-s follow up was cleared off the line.

“I think the boys know that-s it not that far away, it-s a matter of inches as we saw with the game on the weekend,” Deans said.

“It-s just a matter of it clicking on the day and I think especially on the weekend it just didn-t quite fall for us.

“It-s a game of small margins and at the moment the small margins are not going in our favour but we-re still going to stay positive.”

Deans was pleased with the Jets- performance against Wellington and felt the team weren-t far away from clicking in the final third.

“I think in general our play was quite positive and we looked like we were going to score, it was just the final product,” he said.

“That-s something that we can work on, it-s more difficult to fix defensive problems than it is to stay positive when it comes to scoring goals.

“Everyone wants to score goals, not everyone wants to do the dirty work as a defender and I think its something that we-ve shown that we-ve got people that want to do that hard work.”

Deans acknowledged the task of facing the reigning A-League Champions on the weekend and felt it was a challenge the Jets were looking forward to.

“I don-t think there-s a week for the next 24 weeks that-s going to be easy, it-s nice to play good teams because it makes you accountable for your performances,” he said.

“The Mariners have got McBreen, Flores, Duke, McGlinchey, so they-re not short of attacking players and players that can win a game.

“You can-t ever keep those types of players quiet for 90 minutes, so it-s a matter of limiting the amount of time they have on the ball and limiting the supply they get from their own team.

“That-s again when we rely on the defensive qualities that we have shown this year to try and nullify that threat.”

The possible return of Emile Heskey for this weekend-s derby would be a timely boost and give the Jets another option in the attacking third.

“Absolutely, It lifts our team, it lifts our supporters," he said.

"He-s important to our team and our club. He-s a marquee player and someone everyone wants to see play."

"It puts a little bit of fear and doubt into the Central Coast team and they have quite a young backline at the moment.”

Meanwhile, the kick-off time for Saturday-s F3 Derby blockbuster against the Central Coast Mariners at Hunter Stadium has been pushed back 15 minutes to 7.45pm.

Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners Saturday, November 2 Hunter Stadium Kick-off 7.45pm Tickets available from PROticket