Jets succumb to late Phoenix raid

The Newcastle Jets have been defeated 3-0 by the Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium this evening. A second half goal to Leo Bertos followed by a brace by the prolific Shane Smeltz did the damage and ensured the Phoenix stayed in finals contention.

The Newcastle Jets have been defeated 3-0 by the Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium this evening.

A second half goal to Leo Bertos followed by a brace by the prolific Shane Smeltz did the damage and ensured the Phoenix stayed in finals contention.

The scoreline didn-t tell the full story though, with the first half almost entirely dominated by the visiting Jets outfit. Opportunities in the opening stanza fell to the impressive Tarek Elrich and Jobe Wheelhouse, but they were thwarted on numerous occasions by Phoenix shot-stopper Glen Moss.

It was Wheelhouse who had the first chance of the game in only the 3rd minute of action when he was played through one-on-one with the ‘keeper by Joel Griffiths. However, Moss came off his line well to smother the shot and concede nothing more than a corner.

Elrich then came to the fore in the 33rd and 37th minutes when he found himself on the end of some fine lead-up work resulting in strikes from inside the penalty box. Both his fierce shots seemed goal-bound, but were turned away superbly by Moss, who kept his side in the contest over the first 45 minutes.

The visitors couldn-t maintain their dominance in the second period, however, as the Phoenix made the breakthrough on 62 minutes when Bertos scrapped home an in-swinging Troy Hearfield cross amid a throng of bodies.

After the first goal, the game opened up significantly and it was the home side that would benefit in the 67th minute when Smeltz broke free of his marker and knocked in a sublime chip over the on-rushing Ante Covic to earn the league-s leading goalscorer a standing ovation from the 7,524 fans inside Westpac Stadium.

Chasing the game late on, the Jets conceded a penalty in the 85th minute when Hearfield was knocked to the ground. Smeltz made no mistake from the ensuing spot-kick and calmly slotted away his 12th goal of the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League campaign.

After the game, Head coach Gary van Egmond believed his side was guilty of not making the most of their early control of the game.

“In the first half we had enough chances to win two or three games and it was the same old story - we didn-t take our chances. We spoke about it at halftime, that at some stage they-d get a chance of a half-chance and they-ll take it. That-s exactly what happened.”

“It-s a case where if you don-t get the conversion rate in the number of opportunities you create then you-ve got to ensure your goal stays intact, and we didn-t do that. It was some poor defending and we-re on the wrong side of the ledger again,” he said.

The Jets return home from New Zealand tomorrow, but will not stay in the Hunter region for long as they take to the road again to clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium this Friday night.

Match Details Newcastle Jets: 1. Ante COVIC (gk), 2. Adam GRIFFITHS, 8. Matt THOMPSON, 9. Joel GRIFFITHS (c), 10. Jin-Hyung SONG (31. James VIRGILI 77-), 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Adam D-APUZZO, 16. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 26. Mark MILLIGAN (17. Antun KOVACIC 83-), 29. Sean ROONEY

Unused substitutes: 40. Ben MCNAMARA (gk), 7. Kaz PATAFTA

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix: 20. Glen Moss, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN (c), 7. Leo BERTOS, 9. Shane SMELTZ (27. Adam KWASNIK 90+1-), 10. Michael FERRANTE (2. Jeremy CHRISTIE 77-), 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD (23. Costa BARBAROUSES 89-), 18. Ben SIGMUND, 25. Manny MUSCAT

Unused substitutes: 1. Mark PASTON

Yellow cards: Ben Sigmund 53-

Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix: 3 (Bertos 62-, Smeltz 67-/86-(pen)) Newcastle Jets: 0 Crowd: 7,524 Referee: Craig Zetter