It was one of the most exciting games of the season and ultimately, it would finish all square as the Jets and Melbourne City shared the points in a thrilling 2 – 2 draw at AAMI Park on Thursday night.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the Jets in the lead up to the match, with Dimi Petratos rushing back to Newcastle early-morning Thursday to be with wife, Samantha who went into labour with their first child.
It was a seesawing fixture with both teams playing expansive, attacking football. The Jets would find the lead on two occasions, only to have City claw back an equaliser as a stalemate proved a fair result.
The visitors would start the stronger of the two sides, with the opening goal coming early on, and from the most unlikely of sources in Nikolai Topor-Stanley – who opened his account for the 2017/18 season with a headed effort.
The towering centre back was the recipient of some superb service from Pato Rodriguez, who floated a pinpoint ball into the area, allowing the defender to break free, beat Bouzanis and find the back of the net.
The Argentine import dazzled the City defence in the opening half, showcasing his speed and footwork, always looking dangerous with the ball at his feet.
At the other end of the ground, Jack Duncan was keeping his side in front, pulling off a number of crucial saves as the young custodian took the City attack to task.
Despite the Jets’ defensive toil, City would strike back courtesy of a penalty after Daniel Georgievski fouled Stefan Mauk in the dying stages of the first half. City young gun, Daniel Arzani took his chance from the spot and coolly buried his strike into the bottom right corner, just beyond the reach of an outstretched Duncan.
A flurry of bookings before half time brought an end to an enthralling first half of play, with the teams going to the break level.
City came out of the sheds with a point to prove, as they went on the attack immediately. The Jets found themselves bunkered down in their defensive third as they absorbed a weight of pressure from the home side.
The Jets looked to take their chances on the counter, as Andrew Nabbout toiled up front and found space to fire a couple of thunderous strikes that put Dean Bouzanis on notice.
Ernie Merrick would ring the changes mid-way through the second half, as Riley McGree made his club debut, with the Jets newest recruit playing a leading hand in their second goal.
A scheming run allowed McGree to find Nabbout in space to take aim at goal, Bouzanis couldn’t cleanly take his strike as Jason Hoffman charged through to finish and put the Jets in front against the run of play.
The lead was short lived however, as Dario Vidosic returned serve for City, with Luke Brattan delivering a ball into the area that saw City's newest recruit beat Duncan with a headed chance.
A frenetic final 15 minutes ensued, with a desperate diving effort from Steven Ugarkovic the highlight – denying Ross McCormack the winning goal with just seconds remaining.
3’ | 1 – 0 | GOAL! Topor-Stanley! #MCYvNEW
3’ | 1 – 0 | Rodriguez floats a beautiful ball into the area, as Topor breaks free at the back and heads over Bouzanis to give us the early lead! #MCYvNEW
8’ | 1 – 0 | SAVE! Jack Duncan does well to drag in a sharp effort from Daniel Arzani #MCYvNEW
25’ | 1 – 0 | CHANCE! Pato Rodriguez, wow! He dazzles the City defence with some sublime footwork and fires a strike JUST wide of the left upright #MCYvNEW
31’ | 1 – 0 | Jack Duncan, bravo! Jamieson’s free kick thuds into the woodwork and Duncan makes a reflex save at point-blank on the recycled ball #MCYvNEW
42’ | 1 – 0 | City earn a penalty #MCYvNEW
43’ | 1 – 1 | Duncan went the right way but Daniel Arzani levels the score from the spot just before half time #MCYvNEW
63’ | 1 – 1 | CHANCE! Nabbout turns and fires an absolute rocket at Bouzanis, who is forced to tip the strike over the crossbar #MCYvNEW
70’ | 2 – 1 | GOAL! Jason Hoffman! #MCYvNEW
70’’ | 2 – 1 | A jinking run from McGree gets things moving as he finds space for Nabbout, who has his strike deflected by Bouzanis as a charging Hoffman swoops in to finish #MCYvNEW
82’ | 2 – 2 | City level through Vidosic #MCYvNEW
90’+4’ | 2 – 2 | STEVE UGARKOVIC! What a clearance to keep it all square #MCYvNEW
Newcastle Jets: 1.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 11.Patricio RODRIGUEZ, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 24.Joseph CHAMPNESS, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
Subs: 10.Wayne BROWN, 27.Riley MCGREE, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 32.Angus THURGATE
Subs Not Used: 10.Wayne BROWN, 20.Glen MOSS (gk)
Yellow Cards: 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (29’), 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (45’+4’)
Goals: 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (3’), 3.Jason HOFFMAN (70’)
Melbourne City: 1.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Harrison DELBRIDGE, 6.Osama MALIK, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 13.Stefan MAUK, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Marcin BUDZINSKI
Subs: 7.Nick FITZGERALD, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 18.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 44.Ross MCCORMACK
Subs Not Used: 18.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk),
Yellow Cards: 27.Marcin BUDZINSKI (45’+3’), 2.Manny MUSCAT (88’)
Goals: 14.Daniel ARZANI (43’ p), 10.Dario VIDOSIC (82’)