JETS coach Gary van Egmond said yesterday that heads would roll after Newcastle suffered an embarrassing reality check, losing 3-0 to Wellington Phoenix at Hunter Stadium.
A frustrated van Egmond labelled the performance his team’s worst this season, and while it took him by surprise, he said Newcastle’s encouraging start to their campaign, which had yielded four wins from their first six games, had created a false impression of how they were playing.
The Phoenix, who extended their winning streak against the Jets to six successive games, ruthlessly exposed Newcastle’s shortcomings again yesterday and van Egmond left little doubt that he would wield the axe.
‘‘We’ve been going through this with some of the players for a good 15, 16 months who have been here last year, so if they’re not going to get it, we need to change,’’ he said.
‘‘ ... we’ll just see what we’ve got in regards to fit bodies and that will come into it, but we need to change.’’
He felt he did not need to tinker with Newcastle’s playing style, only the personnel.
‘‘I think the philosophy has always been the same,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a case of implementing it.
‘‘I’m not happy with the way it’s being implemented consistently over a game, so we need to change.’’
Van Egmond said his players were warned that the Phoenix were ‘‘a team of men’’ who would be in desperate mood, given they were last on the A-League ladder.
‘‘We were nervous, for whatever reason, I don’t know why . . . people didn’t play with courage; they played with fear,’’ he said.
Newcastle’s cause was not helped by injuries.
Craig Goodwin (shin) and Dominik Ritter (quadriceps) were late withdrawals, joining Ben Kantarovski (knee), Ben Kennedy (knee) and suspended duo Jacob Pepper and Taylor Regan on the sidelines.
Rookie keeper Mark Birighitti was then carried off the field midway through the second half after a sickening collision with Phoenix striker Jeremy Brockie that left him with a compressed fracture of the cheekbone.
He was replaced by Matthew Nash, who is the third gloveman the Jets have used this season.
Until the final minute of a dismal first half, neither side looked remotely capable of threatening the goal.
But then Wellington talisman Paul Ifill fired in a pinpoint cross and Brockie, who had played the two previous seasons in Newcastle’s colours, lost his marker and pounced to give the visitors a 1-0 lead and a crucial advantage.
Brockie doubled the lead in the 81st minute with a header and should have made it a hat-trick in injury time, only for substitute Benjamin Totori to butcher a shot when his teammate was unmarked in front of an open goal.
Minutes earlier, Totori had earned Wellington a penalty after a blatant foul that earned Jets defender Josh Mitchell a yellow card. Ifill made it 3-0 from the spot.
Van Egmond again was disappointed with Newcastle’s defensive display.
The Jets have conceded 13 goals in seven games and are yet to record a clean sheet.
Only Sydney (20) and Melbourne Victory (16) have been more inadequate at their own end of the pitch.
‘‘They’re a very good team on the counter,’’ van Egmond said of Wellington.
‘‘We spoke about it I don’t know how many times and still we didn’t do it.
‘‘We were undisciplined in that area. So from that point of view, it was really poor.’’
The result relieved the pressure on Wellington coach Ricki Herbert.