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Match Preview: Perth Glory vs Newcastle Jets

Friday 17th February 2012
Round 20 action of the Hyundai A-League takes place at NIB Stadium in Perth tomorrow evening when the Glory host the born-again Jets. In a season that promised so much and threatened to deliver, Perth's defeat last week brought to an end an eight-game undefeated streak. In the process it also brought them back in sight of the fifth-placed Novocastrians, after the Jets clinical 3-0 disposal of a disappointing Melbourne Heart in Newcastle last Saturday evening.

The Glory's home record this season is one of the best in the league, with the side only suffering three defeats at the NIB Stadium. They will hope last week's loss to Sydney FC was a minor hiccup as they continue their push for an all-important top four finish and home final. They will be boosted by the re-signing of Jacob Burns and Billy Mehmet in the week, but are aware they will face a Newcastle side on the rise.

The Jets have had more ups and downs than a roller-coaster at Dreamworld, but finally it appears coach Gary van Egmond's plan of a high possession-based game is beginning to bear fruit. The side currently ride a four-game streak without defeat to fly (excuse the bad pun) up the ladder. The Jets coach and players, however, still acknowledge there is a lot more work to be done before the end of the season if they are to feature in the big matches towards the end of March. After registering their first win on the road in more than 12 months at Suncorp Stadium three weeks ago, van Egmond will be after a similar performance tomorrow night. A win for the Jets would see them join the Glory on 31 points, with goal difference separating the teams from the fourth and fifth rungs on the A-League ladder.

Jets player to watch: Jacob Pepper. The newly re-signed Jet continues to improve and impress in the midfield. With Ben Kantarovski still on Olyroo duties and Jobe Wheelhouse out injured, the young tyro will need to combine with both defence and attack on Saturday night.

Glory player to watch: Mile Sterjovski. The former Socceroo has been a little quiet in recent weeks for Glory, which will have alarm bells ringing for Jets coach van Egmond. Sterjovski will ensure the Jets defence gets its toughest test in several weeks as he drifts in and out of the game on Saturday.

Tip: Draw. The Jets look as though they have turned the corner. A victory here would be the equivalent of gold, but the Glory's home record at NIB Stadium, particularly over the Jets, should not be discounted. Perth were not without their chances in Sydney last week.
Paul Jobber

Total articles: 6

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