Newcastle midfielder Mateo Poljak believes the Jets have every reason to enter Sunday’s first F3 Derby of the season with confidence despite suffering defeat in each of the past three weeks.
Speaking with local media following first team training on Tuesday, Poljak — who scored against Central Coast in the final round of the 2015/16 campaign — said the Jets should take heart from the fact that the team has been creating, yet not quite capitalising, on their opportunities in recent rounds.
“I think we have to stay positive,” Poljak said. “There are signs that we should stay positive and if you look at the last game against [Melbourne] City I think we created some clear-cut chances, we just didn’t take them.”
“I think that is a good indication that we are in the right spot — we just need to keep working hard and minimising our mistakes because that is where the goals come from.”
The Jets gained seven from a possible nine Hyundai A-League points against their arch-rivals last season, including a draw at McDonald Jones Stadium combined with two wins in Gosford.
Poljak, who played every minute of every encounter against Central Coast last campaign, believes returning to home soil after a couple of difficult weeks on the road ought to benefit the team.
“It is not easy to go to Wellington and then back to Melbourne against very strong teams, so it is going to be good to play in the Derby in front of our home fans and I am pretty sure we are going to have great support and get back on track,” Poljak added.
“It will be good to come back home after three losses … I think there is no better game than the Derby to redeem ourselves.”
The Jets and Mariners are currently level on five competition points leading into Sunday’s showdown at McDonald Jones Stadium, and both teams know a win could lift them into the Hyundai A-League’s top six.
Mariners haven’t won in Newcastle for over 1,400 days, and while Poljak and the Jets will be aiming to extend that record, the former Dinamo Zagreb man admits Central Coast are a different proposition under the leadership of former Jets skipper Paul Okon.
“They [Central Coast Mariners] are quite dangerous this season and I think they have shown that they can play some good football,” he warned.