It was the high-flying Jets, coached by Ernie Merrick, that won bragging rights against Darije Kalezic and his Phoenix side on Saturday night.
Nigel Boogard played his 200th A League game for the home side and was asked to get up for corners often, as Newcastle piled on the pressure early at Hunter stadium.
A horrendous backpass by Goran Paracki gifted the lead to golden boot leader Roy O’Donovan in the 37th minute. The ball was sent straight to the Irishman, who accepted it with glee, before smashing home the rebound after Keegan Smith’s initial save to spark wild celebration.
O’Donovan was at it again just before half-time, as in classic poachers fashion he smuggled the ball into the net after a well-worked team move and cross from Andrew Nabbout.
Newcastle put the game beyond doubt early in the second half after Nabbout struck on the edge of the box.
Phoenix backline lacks cohesion
A rejigged Phoenix defence was put under immense strain from the off and struggled to clear their lines. With Marco Rossi and Scott Galloway still missing through injury, the Phoenix were forced to make the changes. Newcastle’s football was free-flowing and the Kiwis struggled to match them. The Phoenix coaching staff opted for Ali Abbas, Andrew Durante, Thomas Doyle, and Daniel Mullen, and the latter two especially seemed confused in their different roles. The Nix were tying themselves in knots at the back by always attempting to pass the ball out from the back. It was this blind desire that came back to haunt them after Paracki’s brain explosion.
O’Donovan top of the pops
There was a Roy who had the biggest influence on the game and you can bet it was not Krishna. Newcastle’s new signing is loving life at his latest club, scoring goals for fun and making it seven in five and cantering to the top of the golden boot standings. He came into the game with a poor scoring record against the Nix after multiple seasons with Central Coast. He finished the game with a brace.
Jets pressing game leaves Phoenix still in search of their first win
The Phoenix are still in search of their first win of the season and Ernie Merrick will be very happy with the way his current charges dispatched his former. The Nix had no answer to the Newcastle pressing game and could not muster any meaningful attacks. The Kiwis were guilty of giving the all away and the senior players could not step up. Wellington look like a team in need of some soul searching.