Newcastle loses again as A-League slump continues
SYDNEY (AP) — Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick fears his team will miss the A-League grand final unless it pulls out of a form slump which has seen it fall 11 points behind leaders Sydney FC in Australian football’s A-League.
The Jets suffered their third-straight loss when they went down 2-0 to Perth in the weekend’s 26th round and while they are safe in second place with one regular season round remaining, Merrick fears they might not be able to recover from their late season tailspin in the playoffs.
“I’m not putting that side out again,” Merrick said. “The way we are playing that will be it, finished. We won’t be playing in the Grand Final if we are going to play like that.
“The sooner the boys get that message the better. We’re not improving. If anything we’re getting worse.”
Diego Castro converted an early penalty and Adam Taggart scored for the seventh-straight match at Newcastle’s home stadium as Perth kept its playoffs hopes alive. Currently in seventh place, Perth must beat Brisbane in next weekend’s final round to qualify for the post-season, and hope that sixth placed Western Sydney, who beat Brisbane 3-0 on Saturday, drop points away at Adelaide.
Sydney has already clinched the Premier’s Plate, ensuring it will finish in first place. But several records still beckon the defending champion.
It needs four goals in its last two matches to set new league home and away scoring records and is three points away from becoming the first team to tally 60 championship points in successive seasons.
Melbourne City remained in third place, five points clear of the Melbourne Victory, with a 1-0 win over Central Coast but the Victory have a chance to close that gap when they play last-placed Wellington on Sunday.