NEWCASTLE Jets have a fortnight to get up to speed after receiving a “reality check” in a 2-0 loss to arch rivals Central Coast on Wednesday.
The clash, played behind closed doors in Tuggerah, was the Jets’ first hit out against A-League opposition in the pre-season and followed wins over Northern NSW sides Weston (2-0) and Broadmeadow (5-1).
They are away to Adelaide United in the FFA Cup round of 32 on August 9.
Josh Bingham and former Jet Andrew Hoole scored either side of half-time for the Mariners in a victory Jets coach Ernie Merrick said was “deserved”.
“It was a good hit out and a good reality check against an A-League side,” Merrick said. “The tempo of the game was good and, to be fair, the Mariners played at a higher pace and kept possession better than we did. In saying that, I think we created as many chances. They were more clinical than us and overall were the better team on the day.”
The Jets were without regulars Nigel Boogaard and Andrew Nabbout. Nick Cowburn and Devante Clut were also rested after returning from the Olyroos’ successful under-23 Asian Championship qualifiers in Myanmar.
“That’s no excuse,” Merrick said. “The Mariners were missing players as well.”
Merrick was happy with the performance of young guns Mario Shadow, who started on the left wing, and stopper Lachlan Jackson, but re-enforced the need to develop more goal-scorers.
“Our goal-scoring opportunities came from good pressing not build-up play,” Merrick said. “I felt that Roy O’Donovan and Dimi Petratos were the only players to get in goal-scoring positions. Their opportunities were either saved or just missed.”
“The point I have been making over and over again – we have to have more goal-scorers. That and improving our midfield play and the transition forward.”
Hoole’s goal, scored just after the break, came from a Jets mistake and he was able to round keeper Jack Duncan and slot home.
Jets’ Chinese trialist Zhu Zhengyu played the final 30 minutes but failed to make a major impact.
Merrick hopes to organise another hit out before heading to Adelaide.
“There are things we need to improve,” Merrick said “It is good that we realise that now. We have plenty of time to address it before Adelaide.”
Meanwhile the Jets have handed fullback Jake Adelson an A-League lifeline.
The 21-year-old former Western Sydney and Central Coast right back signed a two-year deal on Wednesday, bringing a successful end to a three-week trial.
The Blacktown junior made two A-League appearance for the Mariners in 2015-16 and was sideline for most of last season due to a knee reconstruction.
As it stands, Adelson has filled one of three final places which had been available for visa players.
However, teenage centreback Daniel Alessi has been given permission to talk to other clubs, which could open another position.
* Jets under-18s recorded a credible 2-all draw against Belgium powerhouse club Brugge in the Weifang Cup in China on Wednesday night.
Captain Pat Langlois and Angus Thurgate scored for the Jets.