The Newcastle Jets were defeated 3-1 by the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.
The Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets were defeated 3-1 by the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.
Looking to erase the memory of a 3-0 defeat last time the two sides met, the Jets got off to the worst possible start, conceding the opening goal to the Mariners inside the first minute.
Eddy Bosnar struck a quickly taken free-kick from near the halfway line, which caught Jets shot-stopper Mark Birighitti off-guard.
The swerving long-range effort left Birighitti wrong-footed, with the ball skipping off the greasy surface and underneath the outstretched boot of the Jets goalkeeper to give the home side a 1-0 advantage.
Five minutes later, the Central Coast had already doubled their advantage following Kim Seung-Yong-s corner that picked out Mile Sterjovski at the back post.
The former Socceroo brought the ball down superbly, before squaring it back across the face of goal towards Bernie Ibini who made no mistake with his finish from inside the six-yard box.
Rather than being shell-shocked by the horror start, the Jets responded positively, with David Carney striking a free-kick from outside the penalty area inches over Liam Reddy-s crossbar in the 12th minute.
Two minutes later, Carney delivered another set-piece towards Joel Griffiths at the back post, but the Jets striker could only direct his header onto the roof of the net.
A short time later, Adam Taggart smartly let the ball run between his legs into the path of Ruben Zadkovich, who fired a left-footed shot from a tight angle that brought a good save from Liam Reddy at his near post.
After a host of near misses, the Jets eventually got a goal back in the 23rd minute through Joel Griffiths.
Zenon Caravella played a neat through ball to Josh Brillante, who had made a smart run down the right wing.
The Young Socceroo hit a low first-time cross towards the penalty spot, where Griffiths drove the ball into the back of the net from close range, making it 2-1.
Buoyed by the confidence gained from halving the deficit, the Jets continued to push forward in numbers.
Zadkovich went close to levelling the scores in the 33rd minute after working the ball onto his right boot and curling a shot from the edge of the area that brought a good save from Reddy.
Four minutes later, another Carney free-kick towards the back post was met by a powerful header by Emile Heskey, forcing Reddy into another impressive save at his near post ensuring the score remained 2-1 heading into the half-time interval.
The Jets started the second half in a lively fashion, with Kew Jaliens delivering a perfectly weighted ball over the top to Taggart.
Taggart did well to wait for the overlapping run of Carney before playing the ball through to the Socceroo, however Carney delayed his shot at goal and Reddy was able to smother the ball at his near post.
Less than a minute later, Heskey put Griffiths in behind the Mariners- defence with a perfectly-weighted pass.
Griffiths delivered a low cross towards Carney at the near-post, who reacted sharply to deflect the ball towards goal with his right boot, only for Reddy to be aware of the danger and make a good save.
The Mariners had their first clear-cut opportunity of the second half in the 68th minute, with substitute Matt Simon turning sharply inside the penalty box, before hitting a low shot that was straight at Birighitti.
The Mariners appeared to have made it 3-1 in the 74th minute after substitute Nick Fitzgerald had put the ball in the back of the net following some neat build-up play from Mitchell Duke and Glen Trifiro, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
The Jets- final chance for an equaliser came in the 84th minute after Andrew Hoole delivered a smart first-time cross towards Heskey.
The former England international controlled the ball with a clever first touch, but could only hit his shot over the crossbar under pressure from the Mariners- defence.
Central Coast put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute of the contest after Simon fashioned an opportunity to shoot at goal, forcing Birighitti to get down low to make a save.
However, the ball spilled from the keeper-s hands into the path of Trifiro, who stabbed it into the back of the net from close range to seal a 3-1 victory for the Mariners.
Central Coast Mariners 3 (Bosnar 1-, Ibini 6-, Trifiro 88-) Newcastle Jets 1 (Griffiths 23-)