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Jan, 16, 2008

Jets to make first move in A-League race

Newcastle have the first move in the "cat-and-mouse" game to decide the A-League minor premiership when they host Perth at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday night.

The fourth-placed Jets are equal on 31 points with Queensland, Sydney FC and Central Coast heading into the dramatic final round which can easily go any of four ways.

The Jets, however have the advantage of taking the early lead in proceedings and putting pressure on their rivals with a win on Friday night.

"You want to put the pressure on the teams straight away," said striker Joel Griffiths, who has shaken off a calf injury to be fit for the game.

"It's probably a good thing that we are playing on Friday night the rest of the games are played later in the week.

"It's going to be very interesting and there's going to be a lot of cat and mouse. You couldn't ask for a better last round."

Goal difference is likely help decide the minor premiership and the Jets could need a comfortable win as they trail Queensland by three goals.

But Griffiths said they were solely focused on picking up three points.

"That's one thing that (coach) Gary (van Egmond) has addressed us about - we just need the three points," he said.

"We shouldn't worry about how many goals we need to score.

"The way I see it, it's three points and we've done our job."

Griffiths said the Jets felt they had nothing to lose after few fancied them to challenge for the title at the start of the season.

"We were picked to come seventh at the start of the season so credit to the boys that we've dug deep and we're reaping the rewards now," he said.

Newcastle will need to overcome a poor record against the Glory.

In their eight meetings to date, the Jets have only managed one win while the Glory have won five, including some blowout scorelines such as their shock 4-1 win at EnergyAustralia Stadium in October.

The venue has been a happy hunting ground for the West Australians - who have scored 15 goals to the Jets' three in their matches there.

Perth coach Dave Mitchell will be desperate for another upset to ensure the Glory avoid the wooden spoon but he has lost former Socceroos winger Stan Lazaridis to a hamstring injury.

Mitchell said he may again opt to leave out midfielder Simon Colosimo, whose future with the club is uncertain.

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