An irate Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond has slammed his side’s lacklustre performance in their shock 3-0 loss to the Wellington Phoenix.
The Jets had been one of the form teams of the competition heading into the Round 7 Hyundai A-League fixture and went into the match at Hunter Stadium on Sunday as favourites against the lowly ranked Phoenix.
However, the New Zealand side turned in a gritty performance to frustrate the much vaunted Newcastle attack and score on the counter courtesy of a brace to former Jet Jeremy Brockie and a Paul Ifill penalty to secure a well-earned victory.
“We’ve had a lot more resolve this year than we had last year in games up until now, but today we came up against a very desperate opponent,” van Egmond said after the match.
“They are a real team of men – they will put their foot in where they have to, they will defend the box very strongly and then they have some players who can counter you.
“We didn’t play with courage, we played with fear and if you are doing that you are never going to control a football match.
“I liked the way we have fought and got results this year, but you play against a team who like to fight and our positioning in the midfield, our rest defence, playing out, all the different moments in transition was not the best.”
It was the sixth win in a row for the Phoenix over the Jets but van Egmond rejected the notion that the Wellington side has a hoodoo over the Newcastle team.
“I don’t buy it,” he said. “The first half was there for the taking but we were nervous, I don’t know why.
“We didn’t look to capitalise especially on the left hand side where we overloaded them.”
Meanwhile, Wellington Phoenix coach Ricky Herbert praised his side’s resolve to climb off the bottom of the table with the win after the majority of his side was involved in a mid-week international.
Half a dozen of Wellington’s players travelled to Shanghai midweek for a gutsy 1-1 draw against China and the Phoenix turned in an equally gritty performance to out-muscle the Jets on their home turf for a win that propels the team into seventh place, just two points out of the top six.
“We had six players who came off the back of an international on Wednesday night and a bit interrupted when eight were away in the Melbourne Heart game so we really haven’t had that stability, but I thought it was fantastic today,” Herbert said after the match.
“We had to show a very strong performance, five of those players played that were involved in China and consequently we were good tonight. I thought we were very good all around the park.
“Off the back of three losses you are looking for something from the season. Predict the results in this league you are probably genius but the best side won tonight and I am pleased.
“We haven’t been that far away in the majority of the game and it came together nicely for us tonight.”
Herbert underlined the performance of striker Brockie.
“It is a nice thing to get them against his old club but the most important thing for Jeremy is to hit the back of the net,” Herbert said of the 25-year-old striker.
“He was in red-hot form in the pre-season and like all good strikers I think they have their periods of time.
“It is good that he is back on the board – he probably should have had a hat-trick tonight.
“I think he is good for 10 to 12 goals a year. He is a good player and he will continue to work hard this year. Hopefully he is getting through this little patch and tonight is a good start for him.”