NEWCASTLE Jets are planning to play the role of long-distance party crashers when they take on A-League leaders Perth at HBF Park on Sunday.
Perth are six points clear of second-placed Sydney with three games to play, so a win against Newcastle would secure the Premiers' Plate and a berth in next season's Asian Champions League.
The seventh-placed Jets need a miraculous sequence of results to scrape into the play-offs, but their immediate priority is an upset victory at a venue where they have traditionally struggled, winning only three times in 20 trips across the Nullabor.
Sport: The Newcastle Jets
"I see that as a good challenge," Jets midfielder Steven Ugarkovic said.
"Can we spoil the party ... can we go over there, make it tough for them, and get the three points? I see it as a good experience, a tough experience, going against the best team in the league.
"I don't think the boys are going to shy away from that challenge, so it will a good test for everyone, physically, and more mentally as well."
Ugarkovic had no doubt that the Glory, under former Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic, deserved to be regarded as the competition benchmark.
"They've brought in some new players there, but I feel that defensively they're a lot more compact and solid," he said.
"Physically they look ready to go ... the table says it all. They're sitting on top, with however many points, and they can clinch it on the weekend. It's self-explanatory that they're the best team in the league."
The 24-year-old, who is expected to partner Ben Kantarovski in the midfield, said he was looking forward to his head-to-head battle with Perth's Spanish maestro Diego Castro.
"It comes down to me and Ben, I feel, and with the help behind us," he said.
"I like playing against him, because he's such a good player. He's different to Australian-based players. He loves being on the ball, you don't know what he's going to do, and it's a good challenge.
"I like testing myself against those players, so I'm really looking forward to it."
Ugarkovic said his attitude was that the race for the play-offs is "not over mathematically", and that regardless of the competition ladder, he wanted to win every game.
A regular in Newcastle's starting side for more than three years, Ugarkovic is intent on increasing his goalscoring output.
"Compared to last year, I'd say [my form] wasn't up to what it was last year," he said.
"Obviously it's been a different type of year, but I still give every game 100 per cent.
"I can say I've been to every game and walk off saying I've given everything I can. I pride myself on that.
"But maybe scoring goals, that side of my game I need to work on ... it's another learning curve for me, and it's only going to make me stronger."