F3 Derby a draw after thrilling finish

The Newcastle Jets have salvaged a 1-all draw against the Central Coast Mariners in spectacular fashion tonight in front of another strong crowd at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

The Newcastle Jets have salvaged a 1-all draw against the Central Coast Mariners in spectacular fashion tonight in front of another strong crowd at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

Fatigue from the Jets- ‘Festival of Football- - 4 home games in 12 days - caught up with the team tonight as they struggled to build on a dominant first half performance.

It was Sasho Petrovski who was on the spot in the final minutes to get between a myriad of defenders and his foot to the ball for the equaliser after the Mariners went ahead 1-nil earlier in the second half.

The positive result for the Jets builds on a stirring run of great form at home during the ‘Festival of Football- - but came with a price.

Several injuries to key Jets players tempered tonight-s comeback, with in-form striker Francis Jeffers leaving the field in the 30th minute with a groin problem and Ljubo Milicevic succumbing to an ankle injury just before halftime.

Perhaps the unluckiest player was Jets goalkeeper Ben Kennedy who injured his medial ligament just seconds from the fulltime whistle, after valiantly saving a last gasp Mariners attempt on goal for the win.

Jeffers departure earlier in the match was a blow for the Jets, with the livewire striker coming excruciatingly close to his first goal for the club on two occasions.

Jeffers- first chance of the night saw him drag a shot wide of the left upright before another shot went astray minutes later.

The Jets- best chance at goal in the first half came from a spectacular shot from Ali Abbas in the 40th minute - denied by a terrific save from Mariners keeper Matthew Ryan.

The second half was characterised by that of a typical derby clash - plenty of hard running and hard tackles - but it was the Mariners who were able to take the advantage through a Matt Simon goal.

Simon-s right foot strike across Jets keeper Ben Kennedy was awarded despite what appeared to be a handball from Mustafa Amini during his assist.

The Jets looked like equalising in the 76th when the Mariners failed to clear a dangerous Ruben Zadkovich cross, with a subsequent strike from Jobe Wheelhouse smothered by Ryan.

The Jets now prepare for one of the biggest events to hit the Hunter region in years - the Qantas Challenge on Saturday night against the LA Galaxy.

David Beckham, Landon Donovan and their teammates arrive in Newcastle tomorrow and will participate in a clinic with more than 600 Newcastle and Northern NSW children on Friday, before taking on the Jets the next day.

Don-t forget to check out the Jets Charity Auction from 12pm Thursday at www.newcastlejets.com.au where you can bid for an actual match-worn jersey from both side-s star players.

SUBS Francis Jeffers for Labinot Haliti, 30th minute Ljubo Milicevic for Jobe Wheelhouse 45th minute Ali Abbas for Sasho Petrovski 69th minute

CAUTIONS - YELLOW CARDS Jobe Wheelhouse 53rd minute

NEWCASTLE JETS FC 1 (S Petrovski 92nd minute) drew CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 1 (M Simon 49th minute)

NEWCASTLE JETS UPCOMING GAMES EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle

Saturday 27 November v LA Galaxy (Qantas Challenge), 7.30pm