Van Egmond praises Jets' character

Gary van Egmond says he was proud of the character the Jets showed to hold on for a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond says he was proud of the character the Jets showed to hold on for a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.

The Jets came back from 1-0 down to lead at halftime thanks to goals from Ryan Griffiths and Emile Heskey, but had to withstand continued pressure from the Wanderers' attack in the second half.

“Even in the first half for the first 10 or 15 minutes we were on the back foot and they scored. We got back on level terms and then got our nose back in front before halftime,” van Egmond said.

“In the second half there were very brief periods where we controlled it, but for the mainstay it was one-way traffic.

“From that, the actual way in which we defended our box, the way in which we dug in, worked for each other and didn-t concede was good.

“As far as defending our box, our effort was very good. Big Emile (Heskey) was enormous for us a couple of times where he cleared the ball, as were a number of other players.”

Van Egmond praised the contribution of goalkeeper Mark Birighitti who pulled off a pair of crucial reflex saves to preserve the Jets- lead.

“It was good to see Birraz have another good game. He-s developing nicely but still has a long, long way to go,” van Egmond said.

“It-s good when your keeper can put the superman cape on and save the day.”

Emile Heskey netted his fifth goal of the season for the Jets and van Egmond said the former England international was continuing to go from strength to strength.

“He was great again tonight, the amount of times where he holds the ball up or flicks the ball on for people to pick up the ball brings so much more confidence into the group.

“He got himself on the scoresheet again which is a credit to him and hopefully we can keep him nice and sound and we look forward to the rest of the season with him.

“Emile obviously hadn-t played many games, but he-s got six under his belt now and he-s feeling like he-s got some training rhythm and game rhythm and that-s the most important part for him.”

Van Egmond said he was pleased with the way the Jets- forward line was beginning to click and the variety of options available to him as coach.

“We always look like we have goals in us,” he said.

“With the players we have in the front third now, there always seems to be the possibility of us scoring when we do have a period of the game where we-re in control and creating opportunities.

“When we had that good period against the Wanderers we brought James (Brown) central and had Ryan Griffiths in a wide area and we got some joy from that as well.

“It-s nice when you can interchange a couple in that front three behind Emile, which makes it difficult for the opposition as well.”

Encouragingly for Newcastle-s Members and supporters, van Egmond said the Jets can get even better.

“I still see there-s quite a bit of improvement. James Brown has only been back for his second game and we-ve got a couple out injured and the Young Socceroos are away,” he said.

“It-s been a little bit disjointed in this front part of the season, but once we get everyone back, and we start to get some more bodies back, there will be good competition for places and it should be good.”