DOUBLE: Diego Castro
WHAT looked like being the David Carney and Milos Trifunovic show turned into a horror story for the Jets on Sunday.
TOUGH DAY: Newcastle coach Scott Miller looks at his bench during Sunday’s loss to Perth. Picture: Getty Images
Newcastle, again opting for a 4-4-2 formation with the veteran duo up front, looked dynamic early on against a green Perth defensive line-up, just as they had the previous week against Wellington.
Carney and Trifunovic were combiningcleverly, andin the 14th minute Trifunovic sauntered in front of Diogo Ferreira at the near post and nudged in a bending Carney corner.
So far, so good.
The visitors looked lethargic and just about ready to get back on the bus, but then, soon after the Jets had taken the lead, the game changed, just as it hadto a lesser extent against the Phoenix.Perth began to dominate possession, pinning Newcastle in their own half and trying to get the lively Chris Harold in behind the Jets’ back four.
“We seemed to back off a bit in terms of intensity and let them take the rhythm of the game,” coach Scott Miller said afterwards.
The Jetscould not keep the ball long enough to mount meaningful counter-attacks, or to ride out periods of pressure, and they stopped winning it high up the park.
With their two players up front increasingly quarantined from the ball, the Jets buckled in the 24thminute when Harold somehow found space between Daniel Mullen and Nigel Boogaard to score with his head.
By this stage former Jets midfielder Mitch Oxborrow was enjoying his afternoon immensely. Hefloated between the lines to flicka through-ball into the box, andBoogaard was lucky not to be sent off when he hauled down Harold.
Oxborrow repeated the dose on half-time andfound Diego Castro on the edge of the area. The Spaniard beat Lachlan Jackson and lashed the ball home.
Then Boogaard slid in on Josh Risdon near halfway and earned his second card. It was not a bad tackle, but he left his feet and gave the referee a reason to book him.
A man down, the Jets went to a back three, which did not work, and then things turned even more shambolic before the scorefinished 6-1.
Boogaard’s send-off was pivotal, but the Jets had ceded control of the game long before then, and Perth possessed more than enough quality in imports Castro, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Ferreira andGyorgy Sandor, plus the enterprising Harold andOxborrow, to take advantage.
The Jets’ game plan had worked to a point, but ultimately theywere outgunned by a team strong enough to leaveRichard Garcia and Andy Keogh on the bench.