Van Egmond's Jets ready for Mariners battle

Gary van Egmond is expecting a stern test when the Jets face the table-topping Mariners in Saturday’s F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond is expecting a stern test when the Jets face the table-topping Central Coast Mariners in Saturday-s F3 Derby at Hunter Stadium.

The Jets and Mariners have the most evenly-contested head-to-head record of any pair of A-League teams. Leading into Round 10, the two Clubs have faced-off 27 times, with nine wins for either side, and nine draws.

Newcastle were the victors when the two sides met for the first time at Hunter Stadium this season, notching a 2-1 win over the Central Coast in Round 3 and van Egmond said the Jets will draw inspiration from that result.

“They-re a well drilled outfit and we know we-re in for a tough game,” he said.

“One benefit we have is that we-re the only team this year to have beaten them and we go into the game with confidence because of that.

“They-re a pretty solid unit and they-ve been able to use the mainstay of their players week-in, week-out.

“They-ve been together for two or three years and they know what-s expected and it-s more so the consistency of what they-ve been able to do over those years.

“A few of their players have got a new lease of life. Daniel McBreen looks like a spring chicken and he-s definitely having a good season and a couple of their younger ones are looking to try and get through like Trent Sainsbury.”

Van Egmond said the Jets are looking to make a significant improvement on their last game at Hunter Stadium where they were beaten 3-0 by Wellington Phoenix.

“We-re at home this week and we weren-t extremely pleased with the last time we were at home against Wellington so we feel that we need to repay some faith back to the Members and supporters,” he said.

“We-re really looking forward to the game. I think the Central Coast have been playing very, very well and it-s a great opportunity for us to show our supporters how much this game means to us.

“We know how much it means to them and it-s up to us to repay them in that way.”

Despite still searching for their first clean sheet after going down 1-0 to Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium last weekend, van Egmond said the Jets- defence had made some noticeable improvements.

“I thought our defensive structure on the weekend was very sound,” he said.

“We got scored against on the weekend by a penalty, but overall they probably had one really good chance and after that it was more half-chances.

“It-s more of the same, we-re definitely working on that defensive structure and ensuring we stay solid as a unit and nice and compact.”

After finding the back of the net on five occasions in his first six A-League appearances, Jets marquee striker Emile Heskey has been goalless in his last three outings.

However, Van Egmond isn-t worried about Heskey-s form, saying the Jets needed to ensure they keep providing the former England international with high-quality service.

“I don-t think Emile was ever getting a glut of opportunities previously and I don-t think that-s changed much,” Van Egmond said.

“It-s more so just the fact that he hasn-t been able to put the ball in the back of the net when there have been half-chances, when previously he has.

“We have to keep on working to ensure we provide him with the best possible service and make sure we can support him when he holds that ball up well.”

It is a double-header at Hunter Stadium this Saturday night. The Jets Youth team play the Central Coast Mariners Youth team prior to the A-League F3 Derby clash at 7.45pm.

Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners Saturday, December 8 Gates open: 4.50pm National Youth League kick-off: 5pm A-League kick-off: 7.45pm Venue: Hunter Stadium Tickets from PROticket

Limited parking will be available for purchase at the car park entrances on game days for the remainder of the Jets 2012/13 season. Whilst there will be parking available for purchase, Hunter Venues does encourage patrons to pre-purchase their parking tickets at a PROticket outlet or online at www.proticket.com.au as parking is subject to availability.