Jordan Elsey has called on his team to be "more ruthless" and "defend the box like our lives depend on it" as the Newcastle Jets try to crack their first win of the A-Leagues season.
Coming off back-to-back draws on the road and an opening-round loss, the Jets host Wellington Phoenix at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.
Newcastle have scored five goals along the way but also conceded six, prompting central back Elsey to issue the challenge as the new-look squad starts to take shape.
"We're doing alright [as a defensive group], but obviously it's not great to concede goals as a defender," Elsey said.
"It's something me and Matty [Jets captain Matt Jurman] have to look at and be a little bit more ruthless in the box and defend the box like our lives depend on it.
"In saying that, I think we're doing well so far for such a new group."
The Jets were down 2-0 against Sydney FC at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday before Valentino Yuel netted twice shortly after the half-time break.
"Obviously we're happy to get a point away in Sydney, not many teams can go there and be 2-0 down and get a result out of it," Elsey said.
"But also in the same sense a little bit disappointed. I thought we created enough chances to win.
"Now we've got a game this Friday against Wellington and we're looking forward to that."
Equal-fifth Wellington (four points) are slightly ahead of Newcastle (two) on the men's competition ladder, having recorded a win each against one another last season.
"Obviously they have an experienced side and they have some game-changing players so me and Matty and the defensive line will have to be on our toes with that," Elsey said.
However, the last time the Jets defeated the Phoenix at McDonald Jones Stadium was over four years ago (November 4, 2017).
Newcastle have three of their next four fixtures at home and the former Adelaide player wants to make the most of the schedule.
"Home games are massive for us," he said.
"Obviously I saw first round we have a good supporter base and they can almost be a 12th man.
"We have a double header [with the women] on Friday night and there's no reason really why you wouldn't want to come out and have a look at us. I think we play an exciting brand of football, we're just waiting for that win and hopefully it will come this Friday."
Elsey, who has played the full 90 minutes in all three outings this season, also talked about filling the boots of retired Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard.
"It makes it easier that I'm friends with Nigel Boogaard so there's no bad blood there," the 27-year-old said.
"I know he had a great pedigree within the town and within the team and within the league. I'm just happy to do that number proud and look forward to the rest of the season."
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