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Mar 23, 2012

Counter-attacks tipped for A-League battle

Sydney and Newcastle are both hoping to catch the other on the break in what looms as a cagey counter-attacking clash for the final A-League playoff spot.

Sixth-placed Newcastle need just a draw from Sunday's Allianz Stadium clash to secure that spot, while Sydney must win to leapfrog the Jets.

"They are a very mobile team, they attack in numbers and are very very good on the counter attack going forward and we can exploit that," Sydney goalkeeper Ivan Necevski said.

"Whenever they come forward at us they leave gaps in their defence and it gives us a chance to attack them on the counter attack as well."

Newcastle assistant coach Craig Deans suggested his team would also be looking to capitalise on counter-attacking opportunities.

"From our point of view, we continue with the way we've been playing, and from their point of view they have to win the game," Deans said.

"They have to bring it to us and hopefully if they over commit in any way we can punish them."

Necevski was looking for notoriously slow-starting Sydney to fire from the off on Sunday.

Sydney have been comprehensively outscored in the first 45 minutes of games this season, but have been far more potent after the break.

"If we can start the game the way we play our second halves then it shouldn't be a problem to be consistent throughout the whole 90 minutes, instead of starting slow and then having to chase the game," Necevski said.

Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka is tipped to promote Shannon Cole and Karol Kisel to his starting lineup, possibly in place of Rhyan Grant and Terry Antonis.

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond will bring in Taylor Regan for the suspended Tiago.

"It's pretty much a finals game and we've treated it as such," Deans said.

"Friday's training session was probably a step up in intensity from what we've had at any time throughout this season so far, so that's probably a good indication that the players are aware of what's at stake."

Necevski is one of several players on either side who will be playing against his former club.

Ironically, three former Sydney players scored the first-half goals in Newcastle's 5-2 drubbing of their old team at Allianz Stadium earlier in the season.

Necevski took over from Liam Reddy in the Sydney goal after that game.

We've improved from then, we've sat down and looked where we needed too improve," Necevski said.

"We've been pleased with the football the last couple of months it's been very positive and we're going to take that into this weekend."

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