Western Sydney Wanderers. Sydney FC. Central Coast Mariners. These are the three opponents from the final three matches that stand between Newcastle Jets Youth and the 2016 Foxtel National Youth League Grand Final.
The junior Jets start the sprint to the finish line at Popondetta Park in Sydney on Saturday afternoon against a Wanderers side coming off successive defeats against the Mariners and the Sky Blues to the tune of 7-2 and 4-2 respectively.
Second placed Newcastle are coming off a bye in the previous round which saw Sydney FC capitalise and return to the summit. Jets Youth will be raring to go against the Wanderers Youth who will be desperate to make amends for their recent defeats and breathe life back into their own campaign.
Despite conceding 11 goals in the last two outings, Western Sydney Youth will be tough opposition, as they proved the last time the two sides met at Magic Park in Broadmeadow. A goal in the third minute of second half stoppage time from winger Brandon Lundy rescued a point for Clayton Zane’s boys in a pulsating 3-3 draw on the opening weekend of the season.
Of potential concern for Newcastle will be the availability of key players like Lundy and Mitch Cooper, which depends on the possibility of the pair sitting this one out should Hyundai A-League Head Coach Scott Miller require them to report for A-League duty the following day against Melbourne Victory at Hunter Stadium. Should this be the case, the Jets would look to in-form number 10 Cody Carroll for their attacking spark.
The key man for the red and black will be winger Joshua Macdonald, who scored twice in the derby a fortnight ago against Sydney FC. Newcastle will need to nullify the influence of the former Nottingham Forest junior if they are to have a chance of taking home all three points.
A defeat for the Wanderers here will effectively end their title hopes, while a win for the Jets would keep them within striking distance of leaders Sydney FC. Jets Youth play Sydney FC Youth in a huge clash at Magic Park the following week, which could well decide Grand Final qualification from Conference B.
LAST TIME THEY MET:
Sunday 8 November 2015, Magic Park, Broadmeadow
Newcastle Jets Youth 3
Western Sydney Wanderers Youth 3
View wide-angle highlights of the first match between Jets Youth and Wanderers Youth this season at top
Western Sydney Wanderers Youth vs. Newcastle Jets Youth – Foxtel National Youth League 2015/16 Round 8
When: Saturday 2 January 2016
Where: Popondetta Park, Emerton (Western Sydney)
Twitter: Follow match updates via @NewcastleJetsFC #WSWvNEW