New pitch not up to scratch

SURFACE TENSION: A player kicks up sand on Tuesday night.JOHN van’t Schip’s side had no trouble carving up the Jets defence on the Hunter Stadium pitch, but the Melbourne City coach was far from impressed with the surface after their 5-2 win.
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Van’t Schip rated the ground a four out of 10 after his class line-up’s five-star performance in round 13 on Tuesday night, which came just two weeks out from the stadium hosting the first of four Asian Cup games in Newcastle.

Defending champions Japan play Palestine on Monday, January 12, at Hunter Stadium.

The venue will also host Oman against Kuwait on January 17, a semi-final on January 27 and the third-place playoff on January 30.

On Tuesday, players kicked up sand regularly throughout the game, just seven weeks after a new $1.3million pitch was laid in preparation for the Asian Cup.

That work, funded by the Asian Cup and the state government, came after the surface came in for heavy and consistent criticism.

Despite City’s dominant attacking display on the new pitch, van’t Schip said it was not up to standard.

‘‘Well, I think that the pitch, looking at it, they say it is a new pitch, it’s in a very bad condition,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s poor. It’s not to a level that a club like Newcastle deserves, and the A-League deserves. That’s the only thing I can say.

‘‘If you look at the pitch at AAMI Park and compare it to here, and you have to give it a rating. I think AAMI Park is a 10 and this a new pitch, it’s a four.

‘‘We have to deal with it. I don’t know why it happened, but it’s not a good pitch.’’

Jets coach Phil Stubbins would not give his view on the surface, saying: ‘‘I don’t think I need to speak about the pitch. I think everyone else can make their own judgments on that.’’

The Herald has been told 50 tonnes of top-dressing sand was laid on Hunter Stadium before Newcastle’s 2-1 win over Adelaide on December 19 and another 33 tonnes was spread early last week to ensure the pitch is in prime condition for the Asian Cup.