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Jets down fast-finishing Phoenix

Newcastle have registered their first win since round 4, after defeating the Wellington Phoenix 3-1 in sunny conditions at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.

After going behind 3-0, the Phoenix worked their way back into the contest late in the second-half following Ben Kantarovski’s sending off shortly before the hour mark.

A 2-0 loss to Sydney FC last week meant that Newcastle’s scoreless streak sat at 559 minutes, more than 6 games without finding the back of the net. Scott Miller, though, largely persisted with the same line-up, with only Lachlan Jackson added to the starting XI in place of Nick Cowburn. Leonardo was a welcome return to the squad, with Braedyn Crowley the player to miss out.

For Wellington, a quality defensive performance at home last Sunday saw them eke out a 0-0 draw with the Roar. Ernie Merrick welcomed back Roly Bonevacia and Alex Rodriguez to his starting line-up, with Matt Ridenton relegated to the bench and Jeffrey Sarpong excluded from the squad altogether.

It was the Phoenix, too, who started strongly in the opening 5 minutes. Bonevacia had an opportunity to open the scoring in the 4th minute as he charged through the centre of the park, but his shot was beaten away by Mark Birighitti.

Then, the Jets finally found the back of the net, albeit in unusual circumstances.

A free kick on the left flank was cleared as far as Kantarovski on the right, whose cross was met by the head of Boogaard. The header was mishandled by Glen Moss and seemed to dribble over the line, but that part of the play was nullified by referee Jarred Gillett signalling for a penalty.

Match Details Full match details »


Penalty7′ M.Trifunovic (Pen)Goal26′ R.KittoYellow Card36′ B.KantarovskiSecond Yellow Card58′ B.KantarovskiGoal66′ D.CarneyYellow Card85′ M.Poljak


Yellow Card38′ D.FoxGoal81′ M.Ridenton

In the lead-up, Milos Trifunovic had been bundled over in the box, and it was the Serbian who put the ball past Moss from the spot to end Newcastle’s scoreless streak at 566 minutes, and give his side a 1-0 lead.

Despite the goal, the Phoenix were enjoying almost two-thirds of possession in the opening half an hour, but were struggling to create opportunities in the final third.

Newcastle, meanwhile, were having no such issues, as they added a second goal in the 26th minute.

David Carney was played through one-on-one with Moss and, despite the goalkeeper parrying the ball away, Ryan Kitto was on hand to side-foot the ball home to double the Jets’ advantage.

The Jets had two chances to extend their lead further, but neither chance found the back of the net.

First, in the 38th minute, a free kick from Carney found the head of an unmarked Trifunovic, but his header flew narrowly over the crossbar. Then, Enver Alivodic’s header — with Glen Moss off his line — was desperately cleared off the goal line by Andrew Durante.

Blake Powell had a chance to pull a goal back for the visitors just before the break, but after turning his defender, the striker’s shot flew just wide of the near post with Mark Birighitti beaten.

Chances were flying in after the interval, with the Phoenix looking for a way back into the game, and the Jets looking to kill off the contest.

A perfect cross from Alivodic in the 46th minute almost found Kitto for his second goal, but a last-ditch intervention by Dylan Fox forced the ball over the bar for a corner.

Bonevacia, too, was looking dangerous at the other end of the park. After cutting inside onto his right boot in the 50th minute, the Phoenix midfielder unleashed a shot toward the back post, forcing a quality save from Birighitti.

With Wellington starting to take the ascendancy in the game, a lazy tackle from Newcastle’s Ben Kantarovski changed the complexion of the game further. Having already been booked before half time, the midfielder was shown his second yellow card of the game by Gillett and the Jets were thus reduced to ten men.

In response, Merrick decided on an attacking move in an attempt to chase the game, sacrificing Alex Rodriguez for the pacy Kwabena Appiah. Conversely, Miller traded Trifunovic for an extra defender, in the form of Nick Cowburn.

In the end, a breakaway run from David Carney in the 66th minute would render both substitutions irrelevant.

A fantastic ball from Alivodic around the ‘Nix defence to Carney allowed the former Socceroo to size up Moss and finish past him into the far corner to make it 3-0.

Wellington were still showing plenty of endeavour, but the desperation of the Jets — highlighted by a 79th minute frenzy of blocked shots inside Newcastle’s defensive area — was making the Phoenix’s task all the more difficult.

However, a quick free kick in the 81st minute provided a lifeline for the Phoenix, as they pulled the scoreline back to 3-1. Powell’s early cross from the free kick found substitute Matt Ridenton at the back post, who first-timed the ball sweetly past Birighitti and into the back of the net.

Despite that goal, and plenty of tense moments in the final ten minutes of the match, Newcastle held on to the final whistle for a hard-earned and long overdue victory.

The Jets now stay in Newcastle and host the Perth Glory next Sunday, while the Phoenix travel to Victoria to face an in-form Melbourne City next Monday.


Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Season’ Votes
3 David Carney (Newcastle Jets)
2 Enver Alivodic (Newcastle Jets)
1 Lachlan Jackson (Newcastle Jets)

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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