Newcastle no happy hunting ground


Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou knows his side are in for a tough test when they face the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Friday.

Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou knows his side are in for a tough test when they face the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Friday.

Despite being one of the Hyundai A-League’s most successful clubs since the competition’s inception, Victory have won just twice in 10 regular-season trips to Newcastle.

The last of those wins came in 2009 – Archie Thompson, Tom Pondeljak and Carlos Hernandez all scored in the last 30 minutes as Victory came from behind to triumph 3-1 – with Newcastle getting all three points in four of the past six meetings at home between the two sides.

Consecutive wins against Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners have Newcastle third on the table and Postecoglou is aware the Jets will be a difficult proposition.

“It’s tough on the road playing in this competition,” Postecoglou told reporters after Thursday’s training session.

“If you want to make some sort of impression on the league you have got to pick up points away from home. Newcastle in particular is always a tough game.

“I even felt when I was coaching Brisbane … we got a couple of results there but it was always a tough game, a scrappy game and it is always a battle.

“For us it is really important, particularly that we have already dropped one home game, that we start picking up some points on the road. If we can go there and get something out of that game, it will set us up well for the rest of the season.”

High-profile signing Emile Heskey has been in impressive form for Newcastle so far, netting two goals in his three A-League appearances.

But Postecoglou is fully aware that the Jets are more than a one-man team and paid credit to the start Gary van Egmond’s men have made to the 2012/13 campaign.

“Emile Heskey is a good player but so is young Craig Goodwin, so is Ryan Griffiths … they have got some good players and they are a good team,” he said.

“They have been (impressive out wide this season) and I guess that’s something that we have got to be aware of. I think they have had four or five players who have done really well through the last couple of weeks.

“From our point of view, it is about tackling Newcastle as a collective rather than focusing on one individual (Heskey).”

On his own side, Postecoglou feels that last week’s 2-1 win over Adelaide United gave his players ‘a bit of belief in what we do’ after starting the season with defeats to the Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar.

He also confirmed that new goalkeeper Nathan Coe would start this week, with Tando Velaphi dropping down to the bench, while midfielder Gui Finkler will miss out with a groin injury.

Jonathan Bru is Finkler’s likely replacement but will drop into defensive midfield, with Billy Celeski set to play an advanced role alongside Marcos Flores.