Newcastle Jets' young guns have sounded an early warning ahead of 2019/20 as they helped deliver the team a rare win over the Sky Blues tonight.
The Hunter outfit finished a disappointing season on a high with a 2-0 home win over Sydney FC, just their second victory over the harbour-siders in 19 games.
And it was the likes of Joey Champness – back to his best after a long-term injury – Gus Thurgate and Lachlan Jackson that showed the promise of big things to come.
Champness celebrated his 22nd birthday with another eye-catching performance and admitted the seventh placed Jets had already turned their attention to next season.
Post-match he told Fox Sports: “That’s what we’ve been doing towards the latter end of the season when we realised we weren’t going to make the finals was building for next year.
“I’m really enjoying playing with the boys I feel like we’ve really got that chemistry together.”
Ben Kantarovski (41’) and Dimitri Petratos (52’) struck either side of half-time to secure the win against a Sky Blues outfit that carved out a host of chances they couldn’t convert.
For Champness it was just the fourth start of the season, and Fox Sports pundit Robbie Cornthwaite said the attacker will be disappointed to have wrapped up 2018/19 prematurely.
“He’s starting to hit his straps and when you’re in form you want to play football,” Cornthwaite said.
“He sort of set the league alight last year in Newcastle’s run to the Grand Final and then he picked up an injury.
“But certainly the last month he’s been looking back to his best. He went away with the Olyroos… had a training camp and a lot of matches and he got some game time under his belt. Now he’s come back he’s looking sharp, he’s looking fresh and fit."
Cornthwaite added: "He’s a player that’s very good in those one- on-one situations, which is such an art, running at players with the ball. To have a performance like he had tonight, backing up from last week (when he scored a brace) – he’ll probably be a little bit disappointed that their season’s has come to an end.”
Second-placed Sydney will have a couple of weeks break from domestic football before launching into the finals. The next match on their radar is an away clash with Ulsan Hyundai in the AFC Champions League on May 7.