Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond believes a renewed defensive resolve has been a key reason for his side's steady climb up the ladder this season.
Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond believes a renewed defensive resolve has been a key reason for his side's steady climb up the ladder this season, following Saturday's 2-1 win over Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.
Panned earlier in their campaign for a dearth of goals, Newcastle have found the back of the net four times in the past fortnight, with the foundations being laid nicely by an exciting, youthful back third.
The Jets defence stymied the Reds early and showed desperation and diligence late as the home side, switching to a 3-4-3 formation, stormed home with a wet sail desperate for an equaliser.
"That (defence) has been a big difference for us so far this year," van Egmond said.
"We've conceded five goals in five games.
"You always keep yourself in the match that way.
"It's a testament to the group with the way they're defending."
Van Egmond believes the match was largely played on the Jets' terms to the extent they probably should have won by a greater margin.
Fabio Ferreira's 71st-minute goal for the Reds made for a tense finale but two strikes either side of half-time to Dutchman Kew Jaliens and Socceroo Adam Taggart set up the win and made up for a host of close shaves early in the piece.
"In the first half we probably could have been a few more up," van Egmond said.
"We had a couple of very good chances but unfortunately couldn't get the ball into the back of the net through some desperate defending on Adelaide's behalf.
"But we created a number of chances.
"They obviously threw everything at us (late in the match) ... they went to a back three at the end."
There were some nervy moments as Newcastle were regularly pinned back after bossing the best part of the first hour but van Egmond believed the experience would hold his young charges in good stead.
"That's a bit of inexperience in knowing how to close out a game," he said.
"The only way you're going to get better at that is to experience those types of games and learning from it."
One of van Egmond's not-so-young contingent, marquee striker Emile Heskey, made a steady return from a knee injury after substituting on in the 70th minute.
He didn't look out of touch and even copped some boos and jeers after being felled by red-carded Adelaide defender Nigel Boogaard.
He will likely play a more prominent role next weekend when the Jets host Brisbane Roar.
"It was great to see Emile get some game time," van Egmond said.
"We'll have a look [at the prospect of Heskey starting next weekend] and see how he's pulled up and reassess from there."