Hosts Melbourne City are desperate for points to revive their flagging finals hopes when they host a Newcastle Jets side playing for pride and already planning for next season in round 21 of the A-League on Saturday night.
When: Saturday, 14 March 2015
Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM AEDT)
Melbourne City: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 10.Robert KOREN, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 14.James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Josh KENNEDY, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO, 27.Kew JALIENS, 29.Safuwan BAHARUDIN
Newcastle Jets: 2.Scott NEVILLE, 3.Taylor REGAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7.Enver ALIVODIĆ, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 10.Travis COOPER, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 12.Sam GALLAGHER, 13.Edson MONTAÑO, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 18.Allan WELSH, 19.Mitch COOPER, 20.Ben KENNEDY (Gk) (c), 21.Daniel MULLEN, 22.Ki-je LEE, 25.Brandon LUNDY, 27.Radovan PAVICEVIC, 30.John SOLARI (Gk)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT)
Radio: Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.
Referee: Peter Green
One step forward and two steps back has been the story of Melbourne City's 2014-15 season.
Late last month they defeated title challengers Adelaide United 3-1 to serve notice of what an undeniably talented squad is capable of when it all comes together.
That proved to be yet another false dawn, with John van 't Schip's men promptly losing successive matches away to two struggling sides, the Central Coast Mariners and the Western Sydney Wanderers.
They're still just one point outside the top six, but have played two matches more than direct rivals Brisbane Roar.
Fail to win at home on Saturday night and surely City can kiss their play-off aspirations goodbye.
The Jets meanwhile are scrapping to avoid the ignominy of collecting the dreaded wooden spoon.
Phil Stubbins' side has shown some improvement in terms of organisation and endeavour in recent weeks, but goals, wins and entertainment in general has been hard to come by.
A first away victory of the campaign would at least give their long-suffering fans something to smile about.
OPTA DATA STATS
- City are unbeaten in six home A-League matches.
- Newcastle are winless in five away matches against City.
- The Jets are still searching for their first away win of the season (D4, L6).
ROUTE TO GOAL
City rested their domestic marquee player, Josh Kennedy, for the defeat in Parramatta on Wednesday. Expect the veteran centre-forward to return to the starting XI at home this weekend.
Mate Dugandzic also made his return from injury and will hope for more playing time as he seeks to rediscover match sharpness.
Newcomer Harry Novillo, signed as Damien Duff's injury replacement, started and displayed flashes of his potential at Pirtek Stadium. The Lyon academy graduate is quick, strong and direct. With the right work-rate and attitude, he could be a potential A-League star.
Andrew Hoole impressed for the Jets in their narrow 1-0 loss to Sydney FC last time out, making the promising young forward's imminent defection to the Sky Blues all the more painful for the Hunter Stadium faithful.
The performance of Mitch Cooper was another cause for encouragement. The 20-year-old's technique and bursts forward from midfield gave Sydney a few nervy moments and Jets supporters will be hoping to witness more of the same at AAMI Park.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
There will be no reunion with his old club for former Jet Connor Chapman, who is suspended after being sent off for grabbing the referee, Angel di Maria-style, in the loss to the Wanderers.
A week after being nominated for the Young Player of the Season Award, the centre-back could yet see his ban extended - a disciplinary committee has been convened to review the incident.
Melbourne City: LLWDD
City lost 3-2 at the Wanderers and 1-0 away to the Mariners during their NSW road trip.
Prior to that they beat the Reds 3-1 at home and recorded successive 0-0 draws, at home to Perth Glory and away to Wellington Phoenix.
Newcastle Jets: LDDDL
Last time out the Jets went down 1-0 at home to Sydney FC.
Before that they had managed three consecutive draws, 0-0 at home to the Mariners, 2-2 away to Wellington and 1-1 at home to the Wanderers.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Andrew Hoole has won 51 fouls for the Jets this season, more than anyone in the squad.
Melbourne City 2-1 Newcastle Jets
We're banking on the A-League's Jekyll and Hyde outfit to turn it on in this one. After all, they're due a performance.
A victory will ensure City fans keep believing in a top-six finish. It's the hope that kills you, right?