Jets win season opener

The Newcastle Jets secured a dramatic 3-2 victory over Melbourne Heart at Ausgrid stadium on Saturday...

The Newcastle Jets secured a dramatic 3-2 victory over Melbourne Heart in their Hyundai A-League season opener at Ausgrid stadium on Saturday.

With the scores locked at 2-2 and the game looking destined for another season opening draw between these sides; Sung-Hwan Byun scored an injury time winner to guide the Jets to victory in a hard fought encounter.

Melbourne Heart took the ascendency early on and created the first real chance after just five minutes when David Williams was released in behind the Newcastle Jets defence, but Williams scuffed his shot past the back post.

Williams again found himself in space just eight minutes later after an excellent through ball from Fred played him into a one on one position, but Ben Kennedy did well to come out to pressure his attempt.

The Jets looked to cause a threat down the other end and Ryan Griffiths was brought down 30 yards out to give them a good opportunity in front of goal but the Heart defence blocked Byun-s free kick attempt.

Melbourne Heart took the lead on 24 minutes when former Newcastle Jets player Jason Hoffman made a fantastic run down the left hand side before picking out Mate Dugandzic at the back post for the simplest of finishes.

The Newcastle Jets found an equaliser shortly after when Ryan Griffiths stepped up to convert his free kick on 30 minutes after being fouled on the edge of the area. Melbourne Heart goalkeeper Nikola Roganovic was left stranded in goal as Griffiths picked out the top right corner with pin point accuracy.

Griffiths scored again on 45 minutes as he volleyed home a great ball from Ali Abbas at the back post to give his side a 2-1 advantage going into the break.

He almost made it 3-1 deep into time added on when he sent home a powerful shot from a similar position to his previous goal, but it was tipped over the bar by Roganovic.

The Jets were fortunate to take a lead going into the break after Melbourne Heart pressed and added a lot of pressure through the likes of Fred, Hoffman and Dugandzic; but some great finishing from Ryan Griffiths gave them the upper hand after 45 minutes.

Melbourne Heart equalised as Dugandzic got his second goal just five minutes into the second half when he tapped in seemingly unattended as the Jets defence failed to clear a Fred cross.

Both sides cancelled each other in the following forty minutes in a hard fought encounter as they tried to break down the opposition defence.

Things livened up later on as both sides went in search of a winning goal and Ben Kennedy had to keep out a long range Michael Marrone effort in the final ten minutes of play while substitute Alex Terra sent his shot wide of the Newcastle goal on 89 minutes.

Newcastle looked dangerous late on and their perseverance paid off as Byun picked up possession inside the eighteen yard box to put the ball onto his right foot and saw his shot deflect in and give Roganovic little chance of keeping out the injury time winner.

Newcastle Jets interim coach Craig Deans said it “feels good” after winning their opening match and after all of the off-field issues leading up to the match Deans said, “It made it all important that we focus on the football and to know we-re going to Wellington with 3 points from today makes it a lot easier.”

A strong crowd of 12,467 turned out for the Jets victory and Captain Jobe Wheelhouse said “to get a crowd like that to our first game was brilliant” and certainly helped them over the line in a tough match.

The Jets were forced to fight it out, and their determination at home got them over the line in the end with a stand out performance from Ryan Griffiths up front.

Match Details

Newcastle Jets FC 3 (R.Griffiths 30-, 45-, Byun 90-) Melbourne Heart FC 2 (M. Dugandzic 24-, 50-) Saturday 8th October Ausgrid Stadium Crowd Attendance: 12,467

Newcastle Jets line up: 1. Ben KENNEDY (GK), 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Tiago CALVANO, 7. Kasey WEHRMAN (6. Ben KANTOROVSKI 63-), 10.Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 14. Labinot HALITI (8. Jeremy BROCKIE 66-), 22. Ali ABBAS (17. James VIRGILLI 77-), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS.

Substitutes not used: Mathew NASH (GK)

Melbourne Heart line up: 24. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK), 2. Michael MARRONE, 5. FRED (3. Brendan HAMILL 82-), 6. Matthew THOMPSON, 9. MAYCON(11. Alex TERRA 63-), 13. Jonatan GERMANO, 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Jason HOFFMAN (22. Nicholas KALMAR 70-), 18. Curtis GOOD, 23. Mate DUGANDZIC.

Substitutes not used: 30. Sebastian MATTEI (GK)