Newcastle players celebrate their win over Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle on Friday night. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP
Newcastle players celebrate their win over Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle on Friday night. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

Jets' win boosts their confidence for Asian Champion League

NEWCASTLE Jets coach Ernie Merrick believes his squad will be running on adrenaline for the Asian Champions League clash with title-holders Kashima Antlers after a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Melbourne City in the A-League.

And the coach himself appears energised for his own fight.

Merrick revealed after his undermanned side's victory on Friday night that he had been fined $3000 for breaching the FFA code of conduct for comments he made about match officials following the 2-0 loss to Perth in round 16.

It is the second time he has been fined in a year for the breach.

Lamenting two penalty calls in Perth, Merrick said: "If it was against us, it would be given. We've had four penalties against, and we haven't got a penalty this year."

He added: "The guy in the VAR was having a cup of tea. He didn't have a chance to look at it. He probably fell asleep."

Merrick has had a running battle with FFA, not only about refereeing and use of the VAR but over apparent inconsistencies in dealing with similar coaches' comments that have seemingly gone unpunished.

"I'm pretty disappointed in getting that actually," said Merrick of the latest fine.

"I don't know if anyone's ever appealed that because coaches don't really know the process, so I've requested some information on the process of appealing, but I will be appealing."

On the pitch, Merrick had little to complain about.

After a 3-1 extra-time ACL qualifying win on Tuesday night over Persija Jakarta, the Jets made seven changes to their starting side for the City clash with a view to next Tuesday's shot at a group stage spot in Japan.

A first-half goal to Brazilian Jair and late counterattacking efforts from substitutes Joey Champness and Roy O'Donovan moved Newcastle to six points outside the A-League top six with eight rounds to go.

They started their journey to Japan with a 5am bus trip on Saturday and several senior players rested or used sparingly on Friday night will return against Kashima.

"It will be a tough trip and it will be a tough trip back but I think we'll be running on adrenaline because of the opportunity to qualify for the group stage," Merrick said.

"Although it's been a very hectic period we've become very resilient and battle hardened so I think anyone we play against is going to have a tough game."

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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