FRUSTRATED coach Mark Jones warned the Jets cannot afford to “switch off” if they want to compete with the top teams in the A-League.
An undermanned Jets suffered their fourth loss in eight rounds, going down 2-0 to Melbourne Victory in a torrid battle at AAMI Park on Saturday.
The visitors frustrated the competition heavyweights for 50 minutes before two goals in two minutes to Marco Rojas broke the game open.
“Despite the adversity today we gave it a shot and we are disappointed to switch off for 5-10 minutes,” Jones said. “That is enough, and you can’t afford to do that against a top team.”
Rojas, who returned to the starting side from international duty, put the home side ahead in the 52nd minute after a wicked deflection from a freekick.
Two minutes later the lively Kiwi winger sealed the deal, intercepting a wayward pass from Johnny Koutroumbis, running into the box and sliding a shot past Jack Duncan.
The Jets lost striker Morten Nordstrand at half-time to a hip flexor problem. Despite the disruption, the visitors battled hard and were unlucky not to pull a goal back.
Devante Clut had a rocket tipped over the bar and Jason Hoffman had a shot cleared off the line.
But in the end, the class of the Victory came through. Fueled by 65% of possession, they fired 20 shots to nine and had the better chances. Apart from the brilliance of Rojas, James Troisi was a constant threat and Carl Valeri was strong.
Brown tried to lift the Jets and Clut and Steve Ugarkovic had moments.
“We thought we could win, we thought we could stop them playing out and we thought we could play through them,” Jones said. “We backed ourselves to get a result.That is why it was extremely disappointing to come in at half-time in a really good position and then concede two soft goals. OK the freekick was unlucky but they should not have not gotten in that position.”
Indeed, the result may have been different if Andy Brennan, who came into the side for Andrew Nabbout (ankle), had converted an early chance.
“It has been the story of our trips to Melbourne so far,” Jones said. “Morten misses one against Melbourne City and we missed one today. I thought the first half was excellent. We have been getting off to slow starts and we were better today. We missed a glorious opportunity, but we pressed well, stopped them from playing out and we had some good counter-attack opportunities.”
Victory coach Kevin Muscat paid credit to the Jets’ resolve.
“'They have a number of injuries, they came with a game plan in the first half and made it difficult for us. It was a frustrating night,” Muscat said. “Potentially it could have been a dangerous game for us. The difficult thing tonight was getting the first goal. Once we got the first goal it settled us down, we kept possession and kept creating chances.''