I never write one off reviews for games but I think tonight is a great place to start. The Jets and Sydney put on a seven goal thriller that ended with the visitors keeping themselves alive in the hunt for the Premiers' Plate. Yes it was another loss for the Jets but in my opinion it was the best loss of the year.
The Jets took it to the much-fancied Sydney straight from the get-go and deservedly went ahead mid-way through the first half. Sydney looked impressive though in both structure and execution. I've grown fond of their style this season as it's just become so much more fluent under Graham Arnold.
Luckily for the Jets, Marc Janko had an 'off-night' by his lofty standards but there's still bucketloads of talent in the Sky Blues line-up. Vedran Janjetovic is up there as one of the best goalkeepers in the A-League, Chris Naumoff's got great potential on the flank and then there's Bernie Ibini on the opposite flank as well.
My favourite player for Sydney this year has been 17-year old Alex Gersbach. I wrote a piece on him a few weeks back (under the opinions tab) and praised his ability at such a young age for the A-League. I was super impressed with his style tonight.
The small things that mostly go unnoticed by the casual viewer like man-marking and positioning, Gersbach was covering all the bases very well. I'm a big fan of young talent in the A-League and I'm in no doubt at all that Gersbach will play for Australia. He's up there as one of the best young fullbacks in the country.
A highlight of Gersbach's game is his ability to get forward and create an overlap. I wasn't surprised to see him grab an assist tonight and from my angle it looked like it'd gone straight in from his cross but it was actually put in by Sydney's captain Alex Brosque.
Ironically everytime I praise an opposition player at Hunter Stadium, they normally get hurt or something happens. Tonight it was Gersbach giving away a penalty. The good thing for him though is Sydney had the class to put another one away and seal the 4-3 win.
Anyway enough about Gersbach, I was most impressed tonight with the Jets' way of not giving in. Coming from 3-1 down isn't something that I thought they'd do at all this year but they certainly did it well tonight.
I don't want to jump the boat but I think tonight showed that there is certainly some hope for season 2015/16 for the Newcastle Jets. I heard that new signing Travis Cooper struggled in a youth game a month or two ago but he impressed me tonight. He was somewhat unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
I think man-management cost us a little bit. I wasn't too pleased with Phil Stubbins taking off Jacob Pepper and putting on Sam Gallagher, especially moving Lee Ki-Ji away from the left back position and putting Gallagher there.
It was the right side that Sydney went down and Gallagher's man who got the cross in for the winner. This isn't a shot at Gallagher who was only doing what he was told to do but at Phil Stubbins who made the tactical decision.
Anyway all that aside, I was impressed with Nathan Tinkler (I never thought I'd say that). Despite all that's happened and what not this season he showed up and simply had a beer with the fans. I'm not sure what was said as I was on the opposite side of the ground but just the gesture is pleasing to see.
Tinkler isn't well-liked by the fans, myself included, but at least he showed he has some front and actually made an appearance. I've heard he spoke to TV crews too which is something I'll have to look up. I'm almost willing to give Nathan some time to try and turn things around.
I'm hesitant though as he's been in charge for a while and nothing's really worked but he's talked up the chances of some signings and what not and despite what I or anyone else think of the man, if he can turn this team around and get the right people on board and produce results, than he can stay.
It's a bit of a shame that the season's ending as the Jets are starting to look like a side that's on the rebound. I'm excited to see what sort of signings we can make in the off-season and hopefully we can produce much better results in 2016.
Someone like a Marc Janko could go a hell of a long way for the Jets. Maybe not on that caliber but a decent striker who can bag a few goals. Edson Montano isn't the right fit in my opinion. He's better suited to play a supportive role, like a #10. I think he needs a good strike partner in a 4-4-2 formation.
I might make an article on who I think might be a good fit but at this stage I think the Jets should be doing some research and trying to find some decent options. 2015/16 will be a better season for the Newcastle Jets. I know that and I think the fans know that too.
Tonight was the most fun I've had at a Jets game this year. It was entertaining and it showed promise for next season. Thanks to the players for giving it your all this season. It's been tough but Newcastle isn't a town that gives in. Good luck in Brisbane next week.
And to Sydney FC, bring that trophy back home to New South Wales.