Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick can allow himself the luxury of thinking ahead to the A-League finals after the Jets 2-0 victory over Melbourne Victory Saturday night at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The win helped second-placed Newcastle reduce the margin to league-leaders Sydney FC to nine points, all but guaranteeing their place in the Finals Series.
The win also took the Jets into uncharted territory on 37 competition points and 11 wins, with eight games left to play. It comes after their previous weeks 2-all draw with Melbourne City that saw them record 39 goals in a regular season, which broke the club record before adding the further 2 from this week.
In addition to this, Newcastle skipper Nigel Boogaard and Riley McGree broke another club record by becoming the 12th and 13th players respectively to score this season.
Boogaard headed home the opener past Lawrence Thomas in the 30th minute, while Caltex Socceroo sub McGree came off the bench to net his debut goal in the 71st minute. Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan was instrumental to the win, showing a superb display.
“It was important that being the team in second position and playing the third (City) and fourth (Victory) teams back to back, that we needed to make sure we not only kept them at bay but we played the quality of football we need to play in the finals — and we look like being there now,” Merrick said after the match.
“The training and both games were intense and we have come through it very well with four points, so I am more than happy. I said to the boys after the game that this was a bit of a dress rehearsal because the next time we play Victory it could well be in the finals if the cards fall the right way.”