A Tale of Two Brankos

The Newcastle Jets travelled to Perth to take on their bogey side, the Perth Glory, at NIB Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Jets had not scored a goal in Perth on their last three visits so the odds were heavily stacked against them. Despite a lively start by both teams, controversy would again have Newcastle Jets aficionados asking questions p

The Newcastle Jets travelled to Perth to take on their bogey side, the Perth Glory, at NIB Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Jets had not scored a goal in Perth on their last three visits so the odds were heavily stacked against them. Despite a lively start by both teams, controversy would again have Newcastle Jets aficionados asking questions pertaining to a questionable goal that was the ultimate difference in a 1-0 loss.

The Newcastle Jets were forced to make some changes before the match, with a hamstring injury to Nikolai Topor Stanley forcing him to withdraw from the travelling squad on Thursday. Ben Kantarovski moved into the centre back position with Jobe Wheelhouse coming into the centre of midfield. Ruben Zadkovich was also shifted to the left midfield position enabling Tarek Elrich to make his first start for the Jets this season at right back. Taylor Regan came into the squad and started from the bench.

The game saw flowing football from both camps in the early stages, with both teams moving the ball nicely in midfield and no real opportunities being recorded by either side in the opening stanza. The closest either side came to an opening goal was from a speculative Perth ball into the Newcastle box which was headed by Perth-s Robbie Fowler but which did not trouble Ben Kennedy.

In the 17th minute, another long ball, this time by Newcastle, forced Perth keeper, Tando Velaphi, off his line and to the edge of his box to head the ball and disrupt Jeremy Brockie-s forward run. Not long after, the ball was back in Newcastle Jets territory and a well timed run by Mile Sterjovski saw him receive the ball from a throw and shoot from the edge of the Newcastle box. The ball went wide of the Newcastle goal but it subtly communicated Perth-s intention.

Much had been said about Perth-s physicality in the lead up to this match but it is fair to state that at this stage of the game, Newcastle were matching Perth physically in the centre of the park with Zadkovich putting in some physical challenges. Perhaps the final pass in midfield was lacking but the Newcastle Jets could be forgiven for feeling somewhat optimistic as Mile Sterjovski succumb to injury and was replaced in the 38th minute by Branko Jelic.

In the 39th minute, Newcastle Jets captain, Michael Bridges, was obstructed on the edge of the box. Marko Jesic-s curling free kick beat Velaphi and crashed against the cross bar.

In the 41st minute, a ball was played into the path of Branko Jelic who was being tracked by Kasey Wehrman and whose solid defensive work denied Jelic a clean shot at goal. The 43rd minute saw a late tackle from behind by Ruben Zadkovich on Robbie Fowler which resulted in a yellow card for Zadkovich.

The controversial moment arrived in the 45th minute when a strong strike by Perth-s Todd Howarth was parried by Ben Kennedy into the path of Branko Jelic. The question is whether the ball struck Jelic-s arm and television replays suggested that it did. However, the officials may have been unsighted at the time and the ball beat the sprawled Ben Kennedy to give the Glory a one goal to nil lead at halftime.

The second half saw Ali Abbas come on for Jobe Wheelhouse, but the change did not have the desired effect with Perth stamping their authority early. In the 47th minute, Howarth clipped a ball from the edge of the six yard box and found an unmarked Fowler but his header went well over the bar. The 53rd minute saw Robbie Fowler roll Zadkovich and then play a super ball in the path of Jelic, who stabbed at the ball and sent his shot well wide.

In the 63rd minute, a break down the left channel forced Ben Kennedy off his line. He did enough to disrupt the Perth attack but the ball fell to Branko Jelic who fired at an empty net but wasted the opportunity with the ball going well over the bar.

In the 66th minute, Branko Culina replaced his skipper, Michael Bridges with Labinot Haliti. This almost paid off with the Jets having a good spell of possession. A left sided cross by Adam D-Apuzzo was poorly dealt with by the Glory defence and a bounce of the ball might have given the Jets an opportunity but the opportunity did not come.

In the 75th minute, Jelic wasted another opportunity when a Robbie Fowler corner landed in a crowded six yard box. Kennedy failed to punch it clear and it fell to Jelic again, who this time stabbed it wide. In the 76th minute, Jelic turned provider and crossed a ball to Robbie Fowler who headed it straight into Ben Kennedy-s arms.

In the 82nd minute, the Newcastle Jets finally got some possession in the front third and Haliti fired a shot which didn-t trouble the Perth keeper. It had been a long time between drinks for the Newcastle Jets but they were still in the game. In the 88th minute, a long ball into the box by Kasey Wehrman found Jeremy Brockie who created an angle to shoot. Tando Velahpi was beaten the ball cruelly travelled passed the far post denying the Newcastle Jets a late equalizer.

The match concluded with the Perth Glory defeating the Newcastle Jets one goal to nil. In the after match interview, Kasey Wehrman was philosophical about the result and stated “we didn-t create anything tonight, that-s to Perth-s credit really, they stuck in and worked hard in defence and caught us on the counter attack so they were very dangerous and deserved the three points”.

The Newcastle Jets will have the bye in round four and will return in round 5 when they take on the Brisbane Roar at Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday 5th September.

Perth Glory: 1 (JELIC 45-) Newcastle Jets: 0 Saturday, 21 August 2010 NIB Stadium, Perth Referee: Matthew Breeze Assistant referees: Joe Fusari, Michael Nugus Fourth official: Matthew Cheeseman Crowd: 12,031

Perth Glory line-up: 1. Tando VELAPHI, 3. Jamie COYNE, 5. Jamie HARNWELL (2. Josh MITCHELL 90+2-), 7. Jacob BURNS (C), 9.Robbie FOWLER (23. ANDRIJA JUKIC 87-), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17. Todd HOWARTH, 19. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (11. Branko JELIC 38-)

Substitutes not used: 20. Aleks VRTESKI, Yellow cards: Neville 29-, Burns 59- Red cards: Nil

Newcastle Jets line up: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI 7. Kasey WEHRMAN 8. Michael BRIDGES (14. Labinot HALITI 67-), 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (19. Ali ABBAS 46-), 16. Jeremy BROCKIE, 18. Marko JESIC,

Substitutes not used: 2. Taylor REGAN, 30. Paul HENDERSON Yellow cards: Zadkovich 43- Red cards: Nil