Newcastle might not have played their best game but their win over Western Sydney has kept them in finals contention.
Newcastle coach Clayton Zane admits Sunday’s 2-0 win over Western Sydney wasn’t the Jets’ best performance but it was one of their most important.
The Jets overcame the Wanderers for the fist time this season to keep their finals hopes alive with six games remaining.
They rebounded from their loss to Sydney last week to climb within two points of the top six.
Victory for Western Sydney at Parramatta Stadium would have bridged the gap between them and top-placed Brisbane but they remain seven points adrift.
“It was a win to stay in touch with the pack and the players knew the importance of it,” Zane said.
“I don’t think it was the most complete match that we were capable of but it was a very good reaction based on the performance last week.
“Today we had the cutting edge in the front third and we looked like we had a few goals in us.”
Newcastle, however, have the competition’s worst home record having won just two of their 10 games at Hunter Stadium.
With the Jets to host four of their six remaining games, Zane knows it’s a stat that needs to be turned around.
“We just need to use the result today to convince them that we can do this at home as well,” he said.
“I still think it’s in our hands and I think it’s actually a good thing that we were starting to get written off. Even other teams like Perth are still well and truly in it.”
A goal in each half to Kew Jaliens and Adam Taggart secured the win over an unusually lacklustre Wanderers side who appeared to be feeling the effects of their third game in a week.
The two goals aside, it was a largely uneventful game which felt as flat as the atmosphere at the stadium.
The usually vocal Red and Black Bloc staged a silent game-long protest after Western Sydney imposed sanctions in response to flares being lit during Wednesday’s Asian Champions League (ACL) match, while only 12,079 fans attended in one of the smallest Wanderers’ crowds of the season.
Coach Tony Popovic admitted it was one of the Wanderers’ most insipid displays but couldn’t put his finger on what was to blame.
“I think overall from start to finish we were very flat, which is uncharacteristic from us,” he said.
“It is a new experience for us, the ACL, so we will have a look at that but even the players who didn’t play the ACL looked flat.
“The things we normally do very well – winning the first ball, winning the second ball – we struggled with that the whole game and we lacked that bit of spark in possession.
“It was just one of those days.”