Jets go close against Sky Blues in friendly

The Newcastle Jets travelled south to face off with Sydney FC in a pre-season friendly this afternoon, narrowly going down 2-1 to the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League Premiers.

It was a picturesque afternoon in Sydney’s inner-west, as both teams strode out into Leichhardt Oval to further fine tune their preparations for the 2018/19 season.

Sydney FC selected a near full-strength side, with only Danny De Silva missing through injury. The Jets were without Dimi Petratos, Ben Kantarovski and Lachlan Jackson – while new recruit Jair also watched on from the sidelines.

Starting XI
The starting XI for the Jets pre-season fixture with the Sky Blues

The running went the way of the Jets in the early stages, as the visitors were able to create a string of chances in front of goal.

Ronald Vargas looked dangerous on the ball in midfield, while Jason Hoffman – playing as a central striker – was making some dangerous runs in behind and causing problems for Sydney custodian, Andrew Redmayne.

Just before the quarter-hour mark, one of the Sky Blues newest recruits, Adam Le Fondre found the back of the net with a curling strike that just evaded a diving Glen Moss – giving the hosts an early lead.

Despite that early goal, the first half continued to be evenly poised with both teams having their fair share of the play – with the Jets failing to execute that final pass in the attacking third.

That changed as the match neared half time, with Angus Thurgate – freshly returned from a Young Socceroos training camp – found the back of the net from close range thanks to a pinpoint cross from Daniel Georgievski.

It was Matt Ridenton who found the fullback out wide pushing forward, as Thurgate made a dangerous run to the top of the six-yard box and finished clinically to draw level.

The second half opened in similar fashion, with both teams trading blows and looking to gain an advantage. Sydney would be the beneficiary of a penalty in the 52nd minute, as Le Fondre was judged to have been brought down in the area by Boogaard.

The controversial call was met with much opposition, as it seemed the contact occurred outside the area. Despite the on field protests, the decision stood and Le Fondre converted strongly from the spot.

Mid-way through the second half Merrick gave trialists Gerrie Sylaidos and Lewis Italiano an opportunity to impress, while Nick Cowburn was given some valuable playing time following a recent lower leg injury.

Lewis Italiano
Lewis Italiano in action during the second half

Hoffman again proved a focal point in attack in the second stanza and went close in the 65th minute, denied only by a reflex save from Redmayne.

The Jets continued to search for an equaliser as the match approached full time, but Sydney scrambled to deny the visitors on a few occasions to finish 2-1 winners.