Jets Out To Stop Costly Free Fall

Source: Getty Images/
Emile Heskey is back to re-ignite Jets against Phoenix. Source: Getty Images/

The Newcastle Jets haven’t won a game so far in 2014. In fact, their last success was a shock 2-0 win over competition leader Brisbane just before Christmas. Since then, the Jets have banked a mere two points (from two draws) and suffered four agonising defeats. As a result, they’re now second from bottom and fortunate to be just a point out of the top six.

There were positive signs for Clayton Zane's troops in last weekend's 2-2 draw with Western Sydney after the Jets came from behind to snatch a well-earned point. But it came at a price – striker Joel Griffiths had a brain-snap after the final whistle and was red-carded for giving referee Ben Williams a spray. He was subsequently suspended for two weeks. Injured in the warm-up, Emile Heskey is back, while Socceroos defender David Carney hasn’t been included. Even with Heskey in the side, Newcastle should be feeding Adam Taggart. The young striker has netted seven of his eight league goals at home this season.

Wellington on the other hand, has been one of the form sides since before Christmas. Phoenix has lost just once in seven games, winning five and drawing the other. Last start, Ernie Merrick’s men downed Adelaide 2-1 in front of more than 18,000 at New Zealand’s traditional home of rugby, Eden Park in Auckland. Normally not great travellers, Phoenix has won two of the last three road games and let’s face it, they were away from home base last weekend, too. Wellington’s other road kills this campaign include Western Sydney 3-1 and Heart 1-0 . An imposing target up front, Stijn Huysegems has scored six goals in his last seven A-League appearances for Wellington Phoenix.

A chance to squeeze into the six, the visitors will have to do it without Kenny Cunningham. Brilliant in tandem with Carlos Hernandez of late, Cunningham is serving a week’s suspension, as is Michael Boxall. Reece Caiira, Josh Brindell-South and Alex Rufer have been included in the Phoenix squad, while Newcastle has promoted Mitch Oxborrow.

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