Jets starting to worry about goal drought
Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond admits his team's attacking confidence is at risk of tapering off after going three rounds of the A-League without a goal.
A scoreless draw against the Wellington Phoenix in Napier on Sunday left both teams winless and sitting near the foot of the standings on two points, courtesy of identical records - two draws in the wake of an opening-round loss.
The deadlock in the league's first game at McLean Park fizzled out following a lively first half in front of a crowd of 9020, who watched Newcastle dominate much of the opening 45 minutes but fail to capitalise.
Van Egmond says he regards the result as two points lost, given his side's dominance and is worried that their failure to register yet this season will start to drill into the players' subconscious.
"Three games without a goal - it doesn't matter who you are, it's going to affect you," he said.
"We just have to be more ruthless with the action of either the final ball or the final run that we make - really believe that we can put the ball in the back of the net."
The likely return from a knee injury next week of former England striker Emile Heskey should help the cause.
It was just the third draw in 20 meetings between the teams, with the Phoenix having won 12 of their meetings and the Jets five.
Local supporters hoped the Phoenix could lodge their first win under coach Ernie Merrick but they fell short of the quality shown in last weekend's 1-1 draw away to Western Sydney Wanderers.
Like Phoenix counterpart Ernie Merrick, van Egmond was pleased with his team's defence, aside from a bright period for the hosts either side of halftime.
When he was able to shake clear of man-marker Ben Kantarovski, Phoenix playmaker Carlos Hernandez created some clear chances through testing crosses.
Stein Huysegems and Andrew Durante were denied by reaction saves from Mark Birighitti, who wasn't tested as often as Phoenix custodian Glen Moss.
The best of several Jets first-half chances came in the 19th minute when a free kick from captain Ruben Zadkovich struck the crossbar. Defender Scott Neville followed up with two shots on goal from close range but was denied, firstly by Moss and then by outstretched defender Leo Bertos.
Veteran forward Paul Ifill was the only Phoenix change, making his first start of the season ahead of Kenny Cunningham.
The Jets made three starting switches from the side who drew 0-0 with Perth, introducing forward Andrew Hoole and midfielders Joshua Brillante and Kantarovski for Michael Bridges, Zenon Caravella and Craig Goodwin.
Their young side - seven starting players were aged 22 or under - had too much enthusiasm for the hosts early on but they lost direction 25 minutes from the end when a cramping Zadkovich was replaced.
"Usually you come to New Zealand and you're pretty happy with a point," van Egmond said.
"But with a bit better finishing I think we could have bagged a few today. General play, controlling the football, I think we probably had the better of it."