Jets defender predicts full-blooded F3 Derby

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Jason Hoffman is well aware of the importance of beating Central Coast Mariners for bragging rights and A-League finals hopes

Newcastle Jets full-back Jason Hoffman rates Sunday's clash with the Central Coast Mariners as the biggest F3 Derby in recent years.

The match will have major ramifications for both sides' A-League finals hopes, with the Mariners set to travel south down the freeway to take on Newcastle in the final match of Round 21.

A big crowd is expected at McDonald Jones Stadium due to the membership initiatives between the clubs, which allows full-season ticketed members to attend away fixtures free of charge.

Central Coast and the Jets have a fierce rivalry dating back to the start of the A-League, with the 2007-08 grand final, which the Jets won, the biggest F3 Derby of them all.

But with both clubs hovering near the foot of the A-League table in recent seasons, there's has been a sense Jets-Mariners fixtures have lost some appeal.

That is set to change, according to Hoffman, as both Newcastle and Central Coast look to keep their finals hopes alive on Sunday.

The Jets are just three points outside the top six heading into this weekend, while the Mariners have won three of their past four matches to move within two points of their local rivals.

"All week in training and come match day, I'm that extra little bit fired up," Hoffman told reporters on Tuesday.

"Being a Newcastle boy, I understanding the history behind it.

"This is a derby that is important regardless of the ladder situation. That [finals hopes] just adds to the importance of it."

Worryingly for the Jets, however, coach Mark, Jones has some tough decisions to make over his starting side with Nigel Boogaard, Wayne Brown and Ma Leilei out through suspension.

It's been seven years since the Jets played in the finals and their chances took a hit with last week's 1-0 loss away to Adelaide United.

Central Coast also still believe they can make the finals despite losing 3-0 to Melbourne Victory in Round 20.

"Whenever we play the Mariners, whether it's a pre-season friendly or a league match, they are always massive games," Hoffman said.

"They are important to the playing group and also to the fans. For the Newcastle fans to say that we beat the Mariners will be a massive thing all month until will play them again.

"With the ladder position the way it is this is obviously one of the most important derbies we've had in recent years.

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"There's finals football around the corner, we haven't been there in a few years so there's that extra bit of tension that can creep in.

"The good thing is the boys are level-headed and understand it's the performance first and the points will be there at the end."

 

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