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Mar 17, 2012

Jets players driven by A-League finals vow

Newcastle captain Jobe Wheelhouse says the Jets will be driven by a long-standing promise when they meet Sydney FC in a tantalising winner-take-all clash for an A-League finals berth.

The sixth-placed Jets' 2-1 loss to reigning premiers Brisbane on Saturday night left them level on 35 points with seventh-placed Sydney, with the two teams to meet in the final round at Allianz Stadium next Sunday.

A draw would be enough to get the Jets through to the top six.

Losing is not an option they're prepared to contemplate.

Wheelhouse revealed he'd told coach Gary van Egmond, who came on as boss after Branko Culina was sensationally sacked before the first round, of a promise the players had already made to themselves.

"Me and Gary spoke before the (Brisbane) game that even before he came to the club, we'd made a pact that we would make the top six and go well into the finals," Wheelhouse said.

"We've been good enough till this stage to get to where we are. It'll be very disappointing if we can't make the six because clearly we've been good enough over the past 10 weeks.

"I think we've shown that we can beat any team on their day and in patches against the Roar we had our chances to win the game we just didn't didn't take them, but that's football."

Albanian import Besart Berisha put the visitors in front with his record-equalling 19th goal of the season, with the Jets' Ali Abbas netting one in reply in the first half before Mitch Nichols scored the 81st-minute winner from a penalty.

It all looked to be going the Jets' way in the opening half when both Brazilian import Henrique and Berisha were denied by the woodwork and, in the second half, Matthew Nash saved an Henrique penalty.

But just as the Jets looked to have the momentum, Brisbane gloveman Michael Theoklitos came to the Roar's rescue with two superb consecutive saves, blocking Ryan Griffiths and ex-Arsenal and Everton striker Francis Jeffers' second-half shots to keep Brisbane in contention for the Premier's Plate as the top-placed team in the regular season.

"Yeah it was a big day for Brisbane but also a big day for us too so we're pretty disappointed we couldn't get a result," Wheelhouse said.

"We've got a game next week that if we win we're in the top six, so we just have to look towards that and focus on that.

"Yeah it's a big game but it's been a big game for us every week for the past two months.

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