The A-League returns for a frantic month of football action to belatedly crown a champion for the 2019-20 season. Newcastle Jets are searching for an upset against Sydney FC to keep their finals hopes afloat.
History: Played 44: Sydney 28 V Newcastle 7 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: January 10, 2020: Sydney 2 d Newcastle 1 at McDonald Jones Stadium
Final Thoughts: A-League leaders Sydney FC back up for their second match since the restart. Newcastle Jets suit up for their first competitive outing in four months.
Sydney FC seemed headed for defeat on Friday night when Wellington opened the scoring in the 66th minute. But an Adam le Fondre penalty levelled the scores 10 minutes latter, before a rapid Trent Buhagiar brace – scoring in the 88th and 90th minutes – clinched the win.
The defending champs are now 11 points clear of second-placed Melbourne City with two games in hand.
The ninth-placed Jets’ playoffs hopes are already slim. They are six points adrift of the top six with a poor goal differential.
Newcastle have won six and drawn six of their 22 games. But they entered the A-League’s hiatus in strong form, losing just one of their last eight games. Home wins over Perth (2-1) and Melbourne City (2-1), and an away defeat of Adelaide (3-0) in the last month before the shutdown revived their campaign.
Prolific striker Roy O’Donovan’s return to the club from Brisbane in January improved their potency. Meanwhile, coach Carl Robinson’s early-February arrival transformed the Jets leaky defence, conceding more than one goal just once.
Newcastle have managed two wins and three draws in their last eight clashes with Sydney.
But the Sky Blues won both encounters so far this season, a 4-1 rout at Leichhardt Oval in Week 4 and a 2-1 result in Newcastle in Week 14. Adam le Fondre and Kosta Barborouses both scored in both victories.
Sydney FC may be weary on a four-day turnaround. But it’s arguably a tougher ask for Newcastle coming in cold against the competition’s benchmark team.