Jetsetters Look For Rare Win In NZ

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Ryan Griffiths has been a focal point up front for Newcastle this season. Image courtesy of
Newcastle’s record across the ditch is nothing short of abysmal. The Jets beat the Phoenix 1-0 the first time they travelled to Wellington in late 2007, but since then Newcastle has dropped eight straight in New Zealand’s capital city. They have struggled to even get close their last four trips across the Tasman, conceding 12 goals and scoring just two, and they both came in a 5-2 drubbing last time they played at Westpac Stadium.

Wellington has actually won the past six clashes at any venue against the Jets, but Gary van Egmond’s team has a golden opportunity to break that streak with the Phoenix in horrible form. Sydney FC’s 7-1 annihilation of Ricki Herbert’s team last weekend was the low point in a run where it has lost five of its last seven. The Kiwis sit at the bottom of the table, but are still just five points adrift of Newcastle in the sixth and last finals spot.

Newcastle is in prime position to take the three points, but they’ll need to end a barren run at the attacking end to do so. The Jets have scored just once in the past three games, when Ryan Griffiths slotted home the only goal in a win over Brisbane. They’ve held on for scoreless draws against big guns Central Coast and Adelaide United, but merely keeping another clean sheet won’t do against a team struggling like the Phoenix.

Wellington should welcome back star striker Paul Ifill after coming off the bench following ankle surgery last week. Newcastle captain Jobe Wheelhouse is likely to be inserted in to the Jets’ starting line-up after spending two weeks as a substitute as part of his recovery from a knee problem, although Ruben Zadkovich will miss the game due to suspension.

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