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Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Improved Newcastle set for another victory over Melbourne

Besart Berisha of the Victory celebrates a goal
1 of 1

BT Sport 1, 8.50am Thursday

Melbourne Victory have a dismal record in Newcastle and that run is unlikely to improve courtesy of some questionable scheduling.

Kevin Muscat’s men have hotfooted it straight to the Hunter Valley from Perth, where they played on Sunday.

The fact that they won 2-0 in Perth, their first victory of the season at the seventh time of asking, will have lifted spirits going into the trek across Australia.

But it will definitely test the conditioning of Muscat’s players, especially that of key midfielder Mark Milligan, who also played a full 90 minutes for Australia against Honduras in Sydney last week.

And then there’s Victory’s awful record away at the Jets – just three wins in 17 visits which, given that Newcastle normally aren’t very good, is a pretty desperate return.

This season, however, Newcastle are going well under new coach Ernie Merrick, the man who guided Victory to two of their three league titles at the end of the last decade.

Merrick inherited a team who finished bottom in 2016-17 and has turned them around.

Led by the league’s top scorer, former Sunderland marksman Roy O’Donovan, Newcastle have tasted defeat just once, and that was at Sydney, the one team ahead of them in the table.

Victory have themselves improved since losing their first two matches – they then drew their next four – but they’ve kept only one clean sheet.

Besart Berisha is scoring again, with a goal in each of his last three matches, but Victory have scored only eight goals in total, half the Jets’ haul. 

Newcastle Jets
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Merrick inherited a team who finished bottom in 2016-17 and has turned them around.
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