Improved effort pleases Stubbins


Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins is proud of the way his side responded to last week’s loss to Brisbane, confident they can build on their impressive draw against Western Sydney Wanderers FC on Saturday.

The Jets came away from ‘Wanderland’ with a hard-earned 1-1 draw in a much improved performance than what they dished up against the Roar eight days earlier.

“Last week was an embarrassing performance from the club but we worked all week on trying to atone for that and credit to the boys, I’m extremely proud of them,” Stubbins said.

“It’s a decent feeling this week. It wasn’t a win but it was a much improved performance. We’re searching for that win, Western Sydney are in same boat…it was a step in the right direction.

“We have a very good harmony in the group and good spirit but when the first goal went in, it was disappointing but I never felt anxious about how the game would end up.

“To come back at Western Sydney Wanderers is a tough ask so credit to the boys resolve. We’ve done some soul searching this week and the players have got their rewards.”

Stubbins made a host of changes to his side, including dropping Socceroos goal-keeper Mark Birighitti in favour of Ben Kennedy and giving a debut to young right-back Nick Cowburn.

Playmaker Marcos Flores also got just his second start of the campaign and the Argentine came up with the equalizing goal after Tomi Juric’s early opener.

Flores, who had played just six minutes in the last three weeks, made a huge difference for the visitors with some classy passes and a rasping volley which cannoned into the crossbar.

“His enthusiasm is quite infectious around the group and to have that around the group on the pitch is a bonus,” Stubbins said of Flores.

“To score the goal the way he did was a tonic for Marcos. He’s not 100 percent yet coming back but today he did himself credit and made everyone supporting Newcastle very proud of his performance.

“We want to improve as a footballing team. We’ve shown glimpses of that and if Marcos is a person that’s part of that dynamic it allows us to play in a different way. He’s added something to the team.”

Asked about the decision to drop Birighitti, Stubbins said: “We decided to take some pressure off Mark.

“Ben Kennedy has trained the house down and deserved an opportunity plus the understanding of the performance last week and we haven’t had a win.

“We’re still working on the best formula and balance of side. We’ve got two very good keepers and today we went with BK and I thought he did a good job.”

The Jets host Central Coast Mariners in the F3 Derby next Sunday. Ticket are available from ticketmaster.com.au.