Late penalty denies Jets

The Newcastle Jets have drawn 2-2 with Wellington Phoenix this afternoon in an enthralling encounter at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

The Newcastle Jets have drawn 2-2 with Wellington Phoenix this afternoon in an enthralling encounter at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

Last season-s Hyundai A-League Champions seemingly had all 3 points wrapped up until a penalty in the last minute of regular time saw the visitors snatch an unlikely share of the spoils.

In a game where all 4 goals were scored in the second half, the opening stanza was a little devoid of goalmouth action. Danish import Jesper Hakansson had perhaps the best two chances for the Jets, with his shot-on-the-turn in the 32nd minute and his first-time volley from a Matt Thompson cross both going agonisingly wide of Mark Paston-s goal.

The game would spring to life immediately after the interval, however, with former Newcastle striker Vaughan Coveny adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Daniel Piorkowski. Referee Craig Zetter had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and New Zealand international Shane Smeltz made no mistake to give the Phoenix the lead.

It would only take the Jets 8 minutes to find the reply though, and it came through a screamer from Tarek Elrich. The talented right-back latched onto a loose ball some 30 yards out from goal before unleashing a shot which deflected over Paston and into the back of the net.

The home team took the ascendancy and then the lead after 68 minutes when substitute Kaz Patafta tapped in his first ever goal for the Jets. A through ball from Thompson was pounced on by Ecuadorian international Edmundo Zura who headed the ball beyond the reach of Paston, creating the simplest of chances for Patafta.

The home crowd-s mood went from to delight to horror a minute before time though, when the referee again pointed to the spot, this time for a challenge by Thompson. The cool head of Smeltz prevailed as he slotted home his second penalty of the half to give the Phoenix a hard-earned point.

Jets Head coach Gary van Egmond drew positives from the game, but was ultimately left frustrated at another draw on home soil.

“At one stage there I thought we were going to be fine, but it wasn-t to be unfortunately.”

“We-ve played here at home 3 times now and drawn all 3 times,” he said. “I suppose the upside of it is that we scored 2 goals, but we-ve conceded 2 pens. If you want to be a serious challenger in this league you need to win your games at home.”

The Jets will return to EnergyAustralia Stadium next round to take on Melbourne Victory after the Hyundai A-League takes a one week FIFA Match Day break.

Match Details:

Newcastle Jets Squad. 1. Ante COVIC (gk), 3. Jade NORTH (C), 6. Jesper HAKANSSON (17. Antun KOVACIC 90-), 8. Matt THOMPSON, 10. Jin-Hyung SONG,11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. Adam D-APUZZO, 18. Noel SPENCER (7. Kaz PATAFTA 59-), 23. Edmundo ZURA (24. Marko JESIC 73-), 25. Daniel PIORKOWSKI

Unused substitutes: 20. Ben KENNEDY (gk),

Yellow cards: Noel Spencer 19-, Jesper Hakansson 45-, Tarek Elrich 49-

Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix Squad. 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN, 8. Vaughan COVENY (10. Michael FERRANTE), 9.Shane SMELTZ, 12. Richard JOHNSON, 15. Adam KWASNIK (11. DANIEL 73-), 18. Ben SIGMUND (2. Jeremy CHRISTIE 67-), 21. Leilei GAO, 22. Andrew DURANTE (C)

Unused substitutes: 30. Phil IMRAY (gk)

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards: Nil

Newcastle Jets: 2 (Elrich 59-, Patafta 68-) Wellington Phoenix: 2 (Smeltz 52- pen., 90- pen.) Crowd: 8,492 Referee: Craig Zetter