A 90th minute equaliser from Adam Taggart secured a 2-2 draw for the Newcastle Jets against Western Sydney on Saturday night.
A 90th minute equaliser from Adam Taggart secured a 2-2 draw for the Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets against Western Sydney Wanderers at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
The Jets suffered a setback before a ball was even kicked, with former England international Emile Heskey suffering back spasms in the warm-up which ruled him out of the contest.
Nick Ward came into the starting line-up in place of Heskey and offered support to Adam Taggart who was given the responsibility of the leading the line in the former Liverpool striker-s absence.
With the Jets adapting to the late reshuffle, unsurprisingly it was the Wanderers who started the brighter of the two sides.
Japanese marquee Shinji Ono had the first sight of goal in the fifth minute of the contest, driving a powerful shot from 25 metres out that drifted just wide of the goal.
The Jets steadily worked their way into the contest and went close to taking the lead in the 13th minute when Josh Brillante played a low cross into the box towards Ward.
The former Perth Glory man slid in bravely with an outstretched right boot, but had his first-time effort smothered by Wanderers shot-stopper Ante Covic.
The deadlock was eventually broken in spectacular fashion in the 26th minute through Jets striker Adam Taggart.
Andrew Hoole went on an enterprising run forward into the Wanderers half, but the play was broken up by Matthew Spiranovic.
However, the ball fell to the feet of Taggart who unleased a 30-metre thunderbolt that gave Covic no chance and cannoned into the back of the net.
The Wanderers enjoyed a positive spell of possession following the goal, but it was the Jets who went close to scoring again in the 35th minute.
Craig Goodwin got past Shannon Cole with a nutmeg on the left wing, before working his way into the box and forcing a sharp reflex save from Covic at his near post.
The Wanderers- best chances of the first half came from set-pieces, with Aaron Mooy and Ono both trying their luck from free-kicks, but they were unable trouble Birighitti in the Jets- goal.
That was until the final minute of the half, when the Wanderers were awarded a dubious free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.
Mooy expertly dipped the ball over the Jets- defensive wall and into the top corner of the goal to make it 1-1 at the interval.
The Jets started the second stanza in a positive fashion, with Taggart hits a powerful shot from an acute angle that forced Covic to tip the ball over the crossbar in the 47th minute.
From the ensuing corner, Taggart rose well to meet Craig Goodwin-s in-swinger, but was unable to direct his header towards goal.
The Wanderers had a fantastic opportunity to take the lead in the 57th minute of the contest with Ono delivering a free-kick to the back post that picked out Matthew Spiranovic, only for the defensive midfielder to head over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
The visitors did eventually hit the front in the 66th minute, when the Jets failed to clear their lines from a Wanderers corner.
Josh Brillante-s attempted clearance deflected off the shoulder of Michael Beauchamp into the back of the net, while the Jets- appeals for a foul by Matthew Spiranovic on Mark Birighitti in the lead-up fell on deaf ears.
The Jets reacted positively to falling behind, with Zenon Caravella, then Taggart both forcing Covic into action with shots from outside the penalty area in quick succession.
Making his first appearance for the Jets since 2009, second-half substitute Joel Griffiths almost put the home side back on level-pegging in the 76th minute with a free-kick that only just sailed over the crossbar of Covic.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation time, Taggart secured a share of the spoils for the Jets with a dramatic late equaliser after Andrew Hoole-s ball back into the box found Taggart unmarked inside the six-yard box.
However, the drama didn-t end there, with referee Ben Williams electing to blow the final whistle just as Taggart had broken clear into a goal-scoring position for the Jets.
Taggart was taken out by Wanderers goalkeeper Covic, but no action was taken by Williams as he deemed the match to have already finished.
In the ensuring commotion, Griffiths was shown a straight red card by Williams for his protestations of the decision, brining an end to an eventful evening at Hunter Stadium.
Newcastle Jets 2 (Taggart 27- 90-) Western Sydney Wanderers (Mooy 45-, Beauchamp 66-)