Newcastle saved their best performance of the pre-season for last this weekend, as they ran out 4-0 winners over the Western Sydney Wanderers at Maitland’s No.1 Sportsground.
A picturesque afternoon welcomed both teams, with a lush surface at the Sportsground conducive to a quality game of football for the almost 2,000 fans who made their way to Maitland.
The Jets fielded a near-strength lineup, with Steven Ugarkovic (illness) and Ben Kantarovski (hamstring) unavailable for selection. They were replaced by Matt Ridenton and Nick Cowburn, who were both dominant in the middle of the park in the ensuing 90 minutes.
The Wanderers had the first chance of the day, with Josh Sotirio getting in behind the Jets defence in the opening exchanges to find himself one-on-one with Glen Moss. The veteran custodian was able to get off his line and Sotirio’s effort ultimately slid wide of the left upright.
On their return up field the Jets opened the scoring through Petratos, thanks to some tenacious work from Ronald Vargas along the byline and from that point, it was all the hosts.
A procession of chances would follow as Ridenton and Cowburn controlled the middle of the pitch, with Vargas and Petratos linking well with O’Donovan and Hoffman in the final third – each putting in a strong showing.
Some 10 minutes after their first, the Jets doubled their advantage through Nigel Boogaard, with Vargas again involved, delivering with accuracy from a corner kick.
In the blink of an eye the Jets had a third, with Vargas the beneficiary of some crisp service from O’Donovan out wide – finishing a volleyed effort at close quarters with precision.
The chances continued in quick succession before and after the break, as the Jets continued to dominate the match. New recruit, Kaine Sheppard in his official debut for the club and made an immediate impact.
He was soon joined by Jair and Italiano, also making their first appearance for the Jets.
After almost setting up O’Donovan for what would have been the most spectacular of goals, Sheppard continued to threaten with a succession of chances.
The English-born striker finally broke through just before the close of play, with Austin getting involved this time to provide service from out wide – a fourth goal capping off a strong all-round performance from Merrick’s men.
The Jet’s next official fixture will be their Round 1 clash with the Phoenix in Wellington on Sunday 21 October.