It was an end-to-end affair that wasn’t without drama, or controversy as the Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the points at Spotless Stadium on Friday night.
Coming into the fixture after a week off, it was a slow start for Ernie Merrick’s men who had to contend with a fired up Wanderers outfit in the opening exchanges.
It seemed as though the home side had taken the lead early through new recruit, Chris Ikonomidis who put one passed Jack Duncan in the third minute – only to have his run deemed offside by the VAR.
It was the first time the VAR would inject itself into proceedings, and wouldn’t be the last in what turned into a controversial evening for the men in the middle.
The Wanderers regained their lost lead in quick time – via a spot kick – after Marcelo Carrusca tangled with Nikolai Topor-Stanley in the area.
The Jets would come to life as the half-time break approached, creating a number of opportunities on goal. Nigel Boogaard almost made it two goals in as many games, with a diving header that thundered into the crossbar off an attacking free kick from Dimi Petratos.
Ugarkovic, Rodriguez and Petratos all had their chances with the latter forcing Wanderers’ custodian, Vedran Janjetovic into the most spectacular of diving saves.
The second half started with a bang, as Roy O’Donovan went close and tangled with Janjetovic on the second ball, causing players from both sides to come together to air their grievances.
Dimi Petratos stepped up to square the ledger – going one better than before the break – placing a fizzing strike into the top right corner after some slick work on the ball from Rodriguez and Nabbout.
The Wanderers were then gifted the lead not long after – as the VAR came into play once more – with Topor-Stanley judged to have handballed in the area from a ricochet ball at point balk range, a call which has been adjudged a tough one by many.
But after Riera made it two from the spot, Andrew Nabout returned serve immediately with one of the goals of the season, being played on from the restart, he skipped passed the Wanderers defence and fired a strike from the outside of his boot which curled perfectly into the top left corner.
The Jets thought they had their winner only three minutes later, as Hoffman looked to have headed clear off a corner. But, the VAR would cruel the visitors once more, controversially ruling his contact with Janjetovic illegal.
Both teams searched for a winner, as Jack Duncan made a crucial, fingertip save late in the match – but it would finish all square.
3’ | 0 – 0 | Iknonomidis looked ot have for the home side off the mark, but the VAR has ruled his run offside #WSWvNEW
6’ | 0 – 0 | Wanderers earn a penalty after Topor-Stanley tangled with Carrusca in the area #WSWvNEW
7’ | 0 – 1 | Riera makes no mistake from the spot as he opens the Wanderers’ account for the evening #WSWvNEW
11’ | 0 – 1 | CHANCE! Boogaard hits the upright with a header! Dimi has it on a string from the wide free kick but a diving effort from the skipper crashes into the crossbar #WSWvNEW
14’ | 0 – 1 | CHANCE! Ugarkovic goes close with a thunderous first time effort from outside the area – sailing just wide of the upright! #WSWvNEW
34’ | 0 – 1 | CHANCE! Rodriguez skips around the top of the area and fires a strike low to the left, forcing Janjetovic into a sharp save #WSWvNEW
43’ | 0 – 1 | CHANCE! Dimi goes from long range, it takes a deflection and forces Janjetovic into a spectacular diving save! #WSWvNEW
47’ | 0 – 1 | CHANCE! O’Donovan goes close and tangles with Janjetovic as the players come together #WSWvNEW
48’ | 1 – 1 | GOAL! Petratos! #WSWvNEW
48’ | 1 – 1 | An absolute peach from Dimi as he tracked across the top of the area, pulling the trigger and giving Janjetovic no chance with a ferocious, dipping strike #WSWvNEW
66’ | 1 – 1 | The Wanderers earn a penalty after a handball by Topor-Stanley in the area – with the VAR coming into play #WSWvNEW
67’ | 1 – 2 | Riera helps the Wanderers regain the lead via the spot kick #WSWvNEW
68’ | 2 – 2 | GOAL! Nabbout! #WSWvNEW
68’ | 2 – 2 | Within seconds we equalise! Nabbout skips past a couple of Wanderers defenders, striking with the outside of the boot and finding the top corner! #WSWvNEW
71’ | 3 – 2 | GOAL! Hoffman! #WSWvNEW
71’ | 2 – 2 | VAR comes into play once more and denies the goal #WSWvNEW
83’ | 2 – 2 | SAVE! Jack Duncan just tips it over the crossbar after Risdon strikes on the volley #WSWvNEW
Newcastle Jets: 1.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Dimitri PETRATOS, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Wayne BROWN, 11.Patricio RODRIGUEZ, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
Subs: 14.Riley MCGREE, 16.Nick COWBURN, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 24.Joseph CHAMPNESS
Subs Not Used: 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON
Yellow Cards: 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (6’), 10.Wayne BROWN (13’)
Goals: 7.Dimitri PETRATOS (48’), 15.Andrew NABBOUT (68’)
Western Sydney Wanderers: 4.Josh RISDON, 6.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 7.Steven LUSTICA, 8.Roly BONEVACIA, 9.Oriol RIERA, 18.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 24.Raul LLORENTE, 25.Chris HERD, 33.Michael THWAITE
Subs: 10.Alvaro CEJUDO, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 40. Nicholas Suman (gk), 42.Keanu Baccus
Subs Not Used: 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 40. Nicholas Suman (gk)
Yellow Cards: 8.Roly BONEVACIA (34’), 4.Josh RISDON (40’) 33.Michael THWAITE (58’)
Goals: 9.Oriol RIERA (7’ pen & 67’ pen)