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Jets open home account with a draw

Newcastle Jets let a two-goal lead slip as it drew with Melbourne Victory 2-2 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Phil Stubbins reigned in the changes after his side’s 2-1 collapse in Perth last week, with Scott Neville, Zenon Caravella and Edson Montano coming into the first team. Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory welcomed back four players into the starting lineup, with Adrian Leijer and Daniel Georgievski returning after serving one match bans, while Mark Milligan slotted straight into the midfield and Besart Berisha up front after the Albanian sat out Monday’s 2-0 win over Wellington with a groin injury.

With Newcastle coming into the match without a win this season, both sides struggled to find fluency to their play as they manouvered Hunter Stadium’s newly laid turf.

Indeed, the match struggled to spark into life in the first 25 minutes, with the only highlights coming from a pair of tame glancing headers.

Newcastle slowly grew in confidence, though, and Griffiths threatened with a header from David Carney’s corner. It was a warning Victory failed to heed and they conceded soon after in the 30th minute when Kew Jaliens made the most of Taylor Regan’s flick-on to score from point blank range.

The Jets doubled their advantage two minutes later but the penalty award by Strebre Delovski was by no means clear-cut, with replays offering little explanation for the decision. Joel Griffiths stepped up to convert the penalty and make it 2-0 to Newcastle.

But Victory responded positively and grabbed a goal back in the 36th minute. Birighitti did well to save Berisha’s initial effort, but the ball fell to Finkler who was allowed to shank a cross back across goal and Ben Khalfallah was on hand to head home.

Newcastle seemed to lose their defensive rigidity after that and Melbourne almost levelled the score as Barbarouses rolled in Berisha, whose shot across Birighitti cannoned off the far post.

It was an encouraging way to finish the half for the Victory, and they found the equaliser just three minutes after the break, courtesy of Besart Berisha. Ben Khalfallah flicked on a gorgeous first time ball to the Albanian, who sprinted clear to the edge of the Jets area before slotting a low shot past Birighitti.

Mark Milligan then wasted a great chance to give Melbourne the lead, with the Victory captain heading Finkler’s free-kick over from close range as the visitors continued to press.

Newcastle unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty when Montano fell in the box and Carney wasted two good opportunities as the hosts tried to regain the ascendancy.

Both sides continued to press in search of a winner but neither could find the killer ball, eventually having to settle with the draw after an intense finish.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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