Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick has indicated he will continue with all four A-League triallists following Thursday’s 4-1 win against the Australian under-19 squad on the Central Coast.
Kaine Sheppard, who scored the Jets’ third goal late in the pre-season friendly, and Mitch Austin both played up front next to regular Newcastle striker Roy O’Donovan at Pluim Park while goalkeepers Ryan Scott and Lewis Italiano shared the gloves with a half each.
“All four triallists performed well,” Merrick said.
“We’ll keep them trialling for a little bit longer. If they’ve got to go back [home] again this weekend, we might get them back again.
“We can’t sign all of them, but they’ve all fitted in very well.”
We can't sign all of them, but they've all fitted in very well."- Jets coach Ernie Merrick
Sheppard, who has scored 14 goals in 20 games for Avondale in the Victorian National Premier League, netted with a header at the back post to make it 3-1.
This was followed up with a fourth and final goal in the dying stages to 18-year-old Maki Petratos, younger brother of fellow Jets pair Dimi and Kosta.
Maki was given game time alongside two more of the club’s youth players – Patrick Langlois and Jackson Frendo.
“We gave our youngsters a run at the end,” Merrick said.
O’Donovan, who is able to play despite being suspended from A-League and FFA Cup matches, opened Newcastle’s account with a first-half penalty after Ronald Vargas was brought down inside the 18-yard box.
The Young Socceroos, who didn’t field Jets squad member Angus Thurgate, levelled proceedings at 1-all going into the main break.
Newcastle’s second goal came from left back Daniel Georgievski, who converted a one-on-one opportunity to recapture the lead.
Overall, a little over six weeks out from round one, Merrick said it was a “worthwhile hit out” for the Jets.
“It was a good, honest kind of competition,” he said.
“There was none of this parking the bus or some teams foul us so much. There was none of that. They were fair and they were honest and they were open and they were attacking.
“It was a good game and the 4-1 result probably flatters us a little bit. In the second half we started to take control … but it was pretty close until the last 10 or 15 minutes.”
Merrick said he would consider Dimi Petratos and Matthew Ridenton for the Jets’ trial against Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval on Wednesday
Newcastle, who were knocked out of the FFA Cup at the round of 16 last week after a 1-0 loss to City in Melbourne, are also due to face the Wanderers this month before opening the 2018-2019 season away against Wellington on October 21.
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