Disruption has been the theme of the NPL Northern NSW season so far in 2019 for the young Jets.
They’ve played just two games in four weeks, with a Round 2 bye and a Round 4 washout limiting their competitive action on the park.
In those two fixtures, the results have been positive with a big 3-1 win over Charlestown in Round 1 followed by a tight 2-2 draw with Edgeworth in Round 3.
The ladder is still tight given the early stage of the season, and a win against this weekend’s opponents, Lake Macquarie City, could potentially see the Jets jump in first place.
One thing which fans can expect on Saturday night is goals – in the last four fixtures between these two sides, there’s been a whopping 26 goals scored.
As to who will score them for the Jets – the options are plentiful. Of the five goals put away for Newcastle in the NPL this season, there have been five different scorers.
Lake Macquarie come into this match rooted to the bottom of the ladder, with two defeats in two matches so far.
They’re far from easybeats though – Sam Walker won the Golden Boot last season, and Lakes have shown they’re a side who can punish teams.
Hyundai A-League boss, Ernie Merrick signalled in Tuesday’s press conference that he may look to give the youngsters a run for the remainder of the season.
Named on Thursday in the 18-man squad for the clash with Western Sydney was Angus Thurgate, which means he’s likely to be unavailable for Saturday’s NPL fixture.
Kieran Hayes is touch and go this weekend – he was substituted off early in the clash with Edgeworth through injury but the washout last weekend may have helped his cause.
One boy who will hope to step up and show exactly what he can do is Jack Simmons, who saw his first NPL minutes of the season against Edgeworth.
He was also name-checked by Merrick in that same press conference, and a good showing on Saturday could bolster his chances of a Hyundai A-League debut.
From the coach
“It’s been an interesting start in terms of, playing one week and then the next week the game is off because of the weather,” Labi Haliti said.
“There’s nothing you can do about it, we’re in the same boat as everyone else, but it is what it is and we have to deal with it. We can’t control it – the boys have been training well, and we’re looking forward to the game.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Lakes’ coach [Nick Webb], we played them in the pre-season and it was a tight match, they’ve got a very very good team. They’ve got last year’s Golden Boot winner, and we’ll give them plenty of respect.
“Kieran [Hayes] is making his way back, he’s trained this week and went very hard this [Friday] morning, so it’s a credit to our medical team and everyone else.
“We’ll see how he goes on Saturday, but the good thing is that we have competition for spots and that’s what we’ve wanted from day one.”