PART of the attraction for Matt Millar in signing with the Newcastle Jets was to "win big games and play in finals".
The 23-year-old fullback was midway through a breakout season with a wooden spoon-bound Central Coast when he put pen to paper in the belief that Newcastle was the best environment to improve his game and enjoy his football.
After a slower than hoped start, Millar's reasoning is coming to the fore.
The Jets have won two games on the bounce and can move into the top four with a victory over Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.
"That is the first back-to-back wins I've had in the A-League," Millar said. "The move here, the big thing in the back of my mind was that I wanted to win games, play in finals and win big games.
"Take out the Sydney loss, I would say we have been the better team for large patches in every game. We have created a lot of chances and we have tweaked defensively and are a bit more solid. We are really starting to put it together."
Millar's natural game is to get forward. He led the Mariners and was second in the league with eight assists last season.
The flyer has laid on one goal for the Jets but is gaining confidence with every game.
"Last year, I had quite a good year going forward but I looked at my game and thought I want to take it to the next level and improving my defence is a big part of that," he said. "I am working with Ernie. At half-time against the Wanderers he had a go at me for not going forward enough. It is just trying to balance it, pick my times and concentrate on the final product. I tend to get forward a lot but I want to make sure we get something out of it - knowing the boys, knowing the runs and where I am going to put it. It is only a matter of time before it clicks."
Millar's combination - balancing act - with left fullback Johnny Koutroumbis, who also likes to bomb forward, is improving. After leaking seven goals in the opening three games, the Jets have conceded just one in the past three.
"It takes a few weeks to get your fitness up and learn how to play with everyone," Millar said. "Johnny and I are working out when to go forward and when not to. We have found a good combination in the past couple of weeks and had two clean sheets."
On Sunday, Millar will have the job of keeping tabs on Reds winger Nikola Mileusnic, who scored a contender for goal of the season in the 2-1 loss to Wellington last round.
"He is quite quick and we have to make sure we are positioned properly," Millar said. "Lachy Jackson has been great since he has come in on the right side. We have built a good understanding. It will be important that he is covering me and I am covering him. On the weekend [in the 2-0 win over Wanderers] we had Mitch Duke. We managed to frustrate him which is what you want as a defender. It is important to get that early challenge in and not give him much space."