Jets set course for home in finals
FOR the first time in seven years the Jets are guaranteed a spot in the finals - but that's just the start, insists striker Roy O'Donovan.
A 1-0 victory at Brisbane on Saturday night means Newcastle are mathematically certain of finishing in the top six, and need only two more wins to be assured of a home final.
But with six rounds remaining Ernie Merrick's side are determined to keep a strong-arm grip on second place, having built up a 12-point buffer on Melbourne City in third.
Newcastle face their biggest game of the season on Saturday when runaway leaders Sydney FC come to McDonald Jones Stadium, and O'Donovan said his side would target the first of the wins needed to ensure their first final would be a home one.
"Sydney FC are a very good side and I reckon it'll be an exciting, attacking game for the neutral, let alone us and the local fans," O'Donovan said. "I'm looking forward to a festival of football, and we'll back ourselves of course.
"Any professional team, or sportsperson, is constantly reassessing their goals and the best way to push yourselves. We've done that this year, especially as we're reaching the things we set out to do with a few weeks left of the regular season.
"We've been playing some really good stuff, and it's important we kick on again. Any team that sits back and takes the pats on the back tends to go downhill fast, so we'll be setting ourselves new goals to achieve this year."
Most of all, O'Donovan said it was the long-suffering Jets fans who deserve finals football, after being overly acquainted with the bottom end of the table.
"The fans and the club have got this particular monkey off their back in terms of missing out on the top six for quite a few years now, all the time since winning the competition all those years ago.
"Getting into the finals was the first point of call, we've got that now but the top four is still something we have to strive for."
Saturday's victory came courtesy of a late goal from Joe Champness at the end of an end to end encounter, but O'Donovan was satisfied that the win was deserved.
"The Roar had their goalkeeper Jamie Young to thank for keeping them in the game for a long time," he said. "We rode our luck a bit towards the end but our defence has been very sound all year and that's been a very good platform for the sort of attacking football we like to play.
"Jack Duncan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Nigel Boogaard have been rock solid, with a phenomenal midfield in front of them, so it's good to see we can grind out a win when we have to as well."