JASON Hoffman expects the Jets’ clash with the Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday to have an edge to it, but the wholehearted utility says it won’t determine their finals hopes – win, lose or draw.
“Yes, this is a big game,” Hoffman said. “Every game is a big game. And we will be going out there to get three points. You want to play your best, you want to prove a point.”
The Jets are coming off a spirited 2-1 loss to Melbourne City in which they played the final 65 minutes with 10 men after the controversial send off of Ronny Vargas.
Again they created the better chances and controlled large parts of the game.
“Last week, we were extremely positive after the match with how we performed,” Hoffman said. “We probably should have gotten something out of it. It has been the story of our season – we haven’t taken our chances.”
Victory’s nine game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end on Wednesday night, going down 2-0 to Adelaide at Coopers Stadium.
“We need to bounce back and they need to bounce back,” Hoffman said. “If we take our chances, I’m confident we can take three points.”
The Jets sit in seventh place, seven points adrift of Wellington approaching the midpoint of the season.
However, Hoffman said there was “too much football to be played” to put too great an emphasis on the table.
“Whether we win or lose this weekend, it won’t determine if we make the finals,” he said. “Obviously, you don’t want that gap to get too big. We won’t look at the table just yet. There is still too much football to be played. What is important is that we are playing good football and believe we will be in the finals. It is just a few adjustments we need to make in front of goal and a little bit of composure. We take our chances, we win matches. In the end, the table won’t lie.”
The Jets have given up the lead in back-to-back games. City scored twice in five minutes, including a debatable penalty, after Vargas was sent off.
They conceded in the 87th minute to draw 2-all with Roar, and also gave up a late goal to go down 2-1 to Adelaide. Against Brisbane and Adelaide they crafted more than twice as many shots on goal.
“It seems like every little mistake we make at the moment, we are getting punished for,” Hoffman said. “For us, that is the challenge. In the majority of our games, we have arguably been the better team. The morale is really high and we are confident in the way we are going about our football. But you need to take your chances and you need to minimise mistakes.”
Victory will again be with marquee midfielder Keisuke Honda and defensive pair George Niedermeier and Nick Ansell but coach Kevin Muscat is expecting a response after being out-played by Adelaide.
“I never take defeats easy. I assume that the group is in the same mindset,” Muscat said. “We look to get back on track in terms of performance tomorrow night.”
Dimi Petratos switches to the No.10 role to cover for Vargas, with Brazilian Jair recalled to the starting XI.
“It is a luxury that we can have someone like Ronny miss out on suspension and Dimi can step up,” Hoffman said. “He is someone with extreme quality and someone who we know over time has been so good for us. I’m sure he will relish the opportunity to be in the middle of the park.”