The Newcastle Jets played out a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
The Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets played out a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
The Jets started the match in a positive fashion, pressing the Victory high up the park and enjoying the lion-s share of possession in the early stages.
Making just his second starting appearance of the season, Jets marquee striker Emile Heskey was making his presence felt up front.
The former Liverpool striker twice layed the ball off to Ruben Zadkovich for shooting opportunities that were blocked by the Victory defence.
The Victory didn-t threaten the Jets- backline until the 26th minute of the contest, when James Troisi played a ball through to Kosta Barbarouses.
The Kiwi international dragged his shot wide of the target in a one-on-one situation with Mark Birighitti, only to see the offside flag raised in any case.
Heskey continued to look like the Jets- most promising attacking threat, rising well to meet Ruben Zadkovich-s cross in the 27th minute, only to direct his header over the crossbar.
A minute later, Barbarouses found himself in behind the Jets- defence and attempted to chip Birighitti, only to be denied by a sharp reflex save by the Jets shot-stopper.
The Jets were inches away from taking the lead in the 36th minute after they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area following a deliberate handball from Pablo Contreras which saw the Chilean defender receive a yellow card.
Craig Goodwin drove the ensuing free-kick underneath the Victory wall, only to see Melbourne goal-keeper Nathan Coe get down low and make a brilliant diving save.
Coe was called into action again two minutes later, reacting sharply to tip Taylor Regan-s header over the crossbar, following a delightful ball from the right flank by James Brown.
After a couple of near misses, the Jets did eventually take the lead in the 42nd minute of the contest when Craig Goodwin whipped in an in-swinging free-kick from the right.
Jacob Pepper leapt to meet the ball with his head and may have got the slightest of touches before the ball deflected off an unsuspecting Mitch Nichols and into the back of the net for an own goal giving the home side a 1-0 lead heading into the half-time interval.
The match opened up dramatically in the second half and the Jets had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Heskey turned swiftly on halfway before carrying the ball forward and playing James Brown in behind the Victory defence.
However, Brown was unable to hit the target with his first time effort and the chance went begging.
Moments later, the Victory responded with a swift counter-attack that ended with Kosta Barbarouses playing a superb squad ball into the box that was expertly finished by Andrew Nabbout, levelling the scores at a goal apiece.
The Jets injected James Virgili into the match shortly before the hour mark and the right-winger almost had an immediate impact, playing a cross to an unmarked Goodwin, who whose glancing header drifted across the face of goal.
The Jets continued to push forward in search of the winning goal, with Goodwin and Zadkovich both trying their luck from the edge of the area, but unable to find a way past Coe.
In his final match for the Jets before his current loan deal with the Club ends, Nathan Burns took it upon himself to help find a winner for the Jets in the dying stages.
Firstly, the former Adelaide United striker carried the ball out of midfield before playing in Michael Bridges, whose shot was blocked my some desperate last ditch defending y the Victory.
A short time later, Burns cut back onto his right boot before firing a shot that was deflected and looped agonisingly over the crossbar for a corner kick.
The Jets almost broke the deadlock through an unlikely source in the 88th minute, with defender Josh Mitchell heading inches over the crossbar from a Ben Kantarovski cross.
For all the Jets- chances, it was almost the visitors who snatched all three points in stoppage time, with a phenomenal save from Birighitti low and to his right the only thing keeping out Troisi's snap shot from the top of the box, ensuring the spoils were shared.
Newcastle Jets 1 (Nichols OG 42-) Melbourne Victory 1 (Nabbout 49-)