HIS team remain winless after three games but Jets coach Ernie Merrick is confident their luck will turn soon.
Newcastle suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Melbourne Victory on Saturday, the same scoreline as in last season’s grand final at the same venue, but Merrick was encouraged by his team’s overall display.
“It was a disappointing result, to not come away with three points after dominating so much of the game," he said.
“We had 21 shots to 10. I think we were 11-3 up in the first half. I was very impressed with the way we played.
“We defended really well. The midfield were outstanding and controlled the game for the most part.
“We had more than enough opportunities to score right until the death, but we couldn’t put one away.
“They caught us on the counter and after that just played very defensively, and played counter-attacking football.”
Merrick added that the bottom line was: “We’ve got to score goals”.
Even in the absence of the suspended Roy O’Donovan and injured Joey Champness, he felt Newcastle had enough firepower to beat teams.
“I think we’ve got good enough players … under pressure, maybe there’s a bit more panic,” he said.
“I’m not sure. Maybe the accuracy wasn’t there. But I think if we play like that over the next few weeks, we’ll definitely get three points each time we play like that.”
Melbourne coach Kevin Muscat praised his players for a hard-earned victory – their first of the season – in tough, blustery conditions.
“I thought we defended with great resilience, putting our bodies on the line,” he said.
“Blocking shots, blocking crosses. As the [first] half wore on, we started to get a foot on the ball and try and play and try and pass.
“And in the second half, I thought we took control.”
After a 2-1 loss to Wellington and 1-all draw in Adelaide before the defeat by Melbourne, Newcastle’s next assignment is a daunting one – at home to competition leaders Sydney FC on Saturday.
"I think it's important to start picking up points. Sydney is a great opportunity," Merrick said.
Merrick admitted midfielder Ben Kantarosvki, troubled by a calf injury in the pre-season, was not fully fit.
But after two cameos off the bench, Newcastle’s most-capped player is in contention for a recall to the starting XI.
"Our midfield dominated most of the game, but Ben is pushing for a start," Merrick said.
"His passes through the middle were first-class ... he's a real force in the midfield."
Melbourne’s goal came from a long-range Terry Antonis shot in the 71st minute, which beat the outstretched hand of Jets goalkeeper Glen Moss. Newcastle enjoyed the best of the chances in the first half.