A CANDID Jets coach Ernie Merrick admits Sydney outplayed his team on Saturday and said the Jason Hoffman send-off had little impact on the result.
Sydney won 1-0 after an unfortunate own goal from Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard.
It was Newcastle’s third successive defeat and left them 10 points behind the top six, with 13 games to play.
“There’s no excuses,” Merrick said. “We didn’t play well enough to win tonight.”
Nonetheless, the A-League’s most experienced coach remains confident the Jets can make a late-season surge and reach the play-offs.
"I think that can be done," Merrick said.
"If you get on a run of three games, three wins, it changes things enormously.
"I still feel that we'll definitely make the top six and play in the finals.
"This puts more pressure on the players to perform. I try to take the pressure off them but some of the youngsters can't cope with it.
"Some of the more senior players love it.
“I don't think it's a good thing to always feel like you have to get three points, but we're capable of doing it.
“We've still got a good squad."
Merrick said that on a positive note, the Jets kept Sydney to just one goal.
"It just puts us in a position where sixth place is going to be further away from us," Merrick said.
"That comes down to several games that we should have won.
"Tonight Sydney were the better team and played the better football. It was only one goal so it shows we defend pretty well still."