THE last time Sydney FC travelled to Newcastle they were beaten 2-1 by a 10-man Jets outfit in one of the most committed and brave performances in the club’s history.
Roy O’Donovan was given a straight red card in the 14th minute after a tangle with Sky Blues defender Jordy Buijs.
But somehow the Jets manged to haul themselves off the canvas.
“We had to show a different side to our game, character and resilience,” Jets forward Jason Hoffman said of the famous win in round 22.
“We had to dig in and be hungrier to work hard. That result against Sydney and a 2-0 win over Victory (round 19) instilled belief in the wider community. We always believed that we were on to something good last year. Everyone stood back and realised that we were capable of beating top teams in important matches.”
Sydney travel up the freeway again on Saturday and Hoffman said it was a chance for the winless Jets to make another statement.
“This weekend is another opportunity – even though it is only early days in the season, round four – it is still an opportunity for us to get our first win and show we can do it again against a top team,” Hoffman said. “There is no doubt that Sydney are a top team. To win against them would make a statement. We believe we are good enough to make a statement.”
The Jets are coming off 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory at home which followed a 1-all draw away to Adelaide. They opened the season with an unlucky 2-1 loss to Wellington in New Zealand.
They have created ample chances, despite teams setting up defensively, but haven’t capitalised.
“For the majority of the match we are playing better football than the opposition,” Hoffman said. “We created chances against Wellington, we created chances against Adelaide and we created chances against Melbourne Victory, especially in the first half. It comes down to the final pass and having that little bit of composure. It feels like we are not too far off getting it right. At the moment the little things are letting us down. [Victory midfielder] Terry Antonis had a little bit too much space one time in the whole match and he punished us. Those little moments make a big difference. Against Sydney last time, our little moment was Andrew Nabbout scoring the winner from 30 yards. Often against the top teams, the little moments are the difference. This week we need someone to stand up in a little moment.”
The Jets reviewed the Victory loss before training on Tuesday and Hoffman said “to be honest there was a lot of good stuff, in particualr the first half”.
“Morale is still really high,” Hoffman said. “There is no cause to panic. Sometimes you can overthink things, wear your knuckle to the bone trying to correct things when there is not much to correct. We have smart players who can turn games on their head. That is what it is going to take against Sydney. We are happy, to degree, with the football we are playing for 80-90 per cent of a match. It is just that extra little bit of focus on the finer details we need to correct at both ends of the field to beat the top teams.”