Ernie Merrick hopes Wednesday night’s “ugly” F3 Derby win over Central Coast Mariners could be the catalyst for a late-season surge from his Newcastle Jets.
Merrick conceded his side “rode their luck” in the 1-0 win at McDonald Jones Stadium but feels the Jets were due a change of luck having dominated plenty of games this season without reward.
They got the job done over the Mariners thanks to Kaine Sheppard’s 54th-minute strike, stretching their F3 Derby winning record to five matches.
But it could have been a lot different with the Mariners hitting the woodwork in the second half, while defender Lachlan Jackson cleared a goal-bound Jordan Murray strike off the line in stoppage-time.
“When it’s 1-0 they have nothing to lose and that’s why we were under the pump, but we fought and defended really well and that’s what it’s about sometimes,” Merrick said.
“That’s what we have to do sometimes, we have to close the game [out].
“The main thing is we’ve been fighting hard every week and we got three points for fighting hard and sometimes that’s what you need.
“So that’s one in a row.”
The victory has seen the seventh-placed Jets close the gap to the top-six to eight points ahead of their trip to league-leaders Perth Glory on Sunday.
The Hunter club have an atrocious record against Glory, winning just two of their last 21 meetings between the two sides.
But Merrick is hopeful the winning feeling in his squad after Wednesday’s triumph could be the turning point of their season.
“That’s the hope isn’t it? You hope that’s the start of getting some momentum and kicking on,” he said.
“We’ve got two tough away games now, Perth and then the Wanderers but we can do it.
“They [Glory] are top of the league so it’s going to be a tough game but I feel we can match anyone.
“When we played [Glory] here we dominated the game and lost. We had twice as many scoring shots as they had…we’re capable of taking anyone on the day.”
The Jets are likely to be boosted for the trip west by the return of skipper Nigel Boogaard, who was rested for the win over Central Coast.