No Victory for Jets in Port Macquarie

The Newcastle jets have been defeated 1-0 by the Melbourne Victory in the last Round of the 2008 Pre-Season Cup.

The Newcastle Jets have suffered their first defeated of the 2008 Pre-Season Cup, going down in their Round 3 clash to the Melbourne Victory 1-0 on a beautiful day in Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

The Jets- first chance of the game fell to Matt Thompson who picked up the ball on the edge of the area in the 15th minute. Despite having his first shot blocked, Thompson unleashed a powerful strike which was saved superbly by Michael Theoklitos.

Victory-s new Brazilian import, Ney Fabiano, looked dangerous, creating two fantastic opportunities. The first of which was a header in the 18th minute, and the second a strike 15 minutes later on the edge of the box. Both of Fabiano-s efforts were thwarted by Jets goalkeeper, Ante Covic.

The Victory then stepped up a gear and began to press higher up the pitch. Costa Rican midfielder Carlos Hernandez perhaps benefitted greatest from the increase in possession for Melbourne, and in the 40th minute took a fierce strike at goal from 20 yards. Covic would prove hard to beat though, and once again pulled off an impressive save.

Early in the second half the Jets began to keep the ball for longer periods and play more of their brand of short passing football. Adam D-Apuzzo came closest for the Jets in the second half, picking up a loose ball from 20 yards out, D-Apuzzo unleashed a dipping shot at goal. With Theoklitos beaten, the strike went inches wide and left the healthy crowd gasping.

In the 69th minute Covic once again proved his class, saving a well-taken Hernandez free-kick. The Socceroo gloveman moved quickly to his right and made a spectacular parrying save to deny the Costa Rican.

Ten minutes later and the Jets latest signing, Danish International Jesper Hakansson, would steal in behind the Victory defence. However, the hard working midfielder couldn-t latch onto a Tarek Elrich cross and opportunity was dashed.

Substitute Tom Pondeljak then stole the show, making an incisive run behind the Jets tiring defence and latching onto a neat Hernandez through ball. Pondeljak then calmly rounded the oncoming Covic to slot home the only goal of the game.

Drama unfolded with one minute of regular time though, as reigning Golden Boot winner Joel Griffiths hit the bar from a brilliant free-kick. It would be the Jets last chance of equalising however, and the team from the Hunter would suffer their first defeat of the 2008 Pre-Season Cup.

Despite the loss, Head Coach Gary van Egmond believes that the Round 3 game, and in particular the week-long camp in Port Macquarie proved to be an important step in the team-s Pre-Season preparations.

“It was good, we had a really hard week, so the boys- legs were really heavy for this game. We really worked them hard and they didn-t have a day off this week at all. So now we start to freshen them up for the first game against the Central Coast,” van Egmond said.

The reigning Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year was also impressed by the debut of Hakansson, and praised him after the game.

“With Jesper I thought he worked well, he looked for the ball and he kept the ball quite well.”

In a huge positive for the future of the Jets, the Newcastle Jets Youth Team today defeated a Football Mid-North Coast team 5-0. First half goals to Adrian Karakolevski and Ben Martin were followed in the second stanza by goals to James Virgilli, Jarrad Ross, and Jason Korotich.

The Newcastle Jets will now play an intra-club game next week in preparations for the Hyundai A-League title defence.

Newcastle Jets squad: 1 Ante COVIC, 2 Adam GRIFFITHS (c), 6 Jesper HAKANSSON, 7 Kaz PATAFTA (19 Jason NAIDOVSKI 70-), 8 Matt THOMPSON, 9 Joel GRIFFITHS, 11 Tarek ELRICH, 13 Adam D-APUZZO, 15 Jason HOFFMAN, 18 Noel SPENCER, 24 Beau BUSCH

Unused substitutes: 10 Jin-Hyung SONG, 17 Antun KOVACIC, 20 Ben KENNEDY

Yellow cards: Jesper Hakansson 44-, Ante Covic 45-

Melbourne Victory squad: 1 Michael THEOKLITOS, 3 Michael THWAITE, 5 Sebastian RYALL, 7 Matthew KEMP, 9 Daniel ALLSOPP (4 Steven PACE 45-), 11 Ney FABIANO (13 Nathan ELASI 45-), 12 Rodrigo VARGAS (c), 16 Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17 Jose Luis LOPEZ (15 Tom PONDELJAK 45-), 19 Evan BERGER, 22 Nick WARD

Unused substitute: 20 Mitchell LANGERAK

Yellow cards: Matthew Kemp 45-, Carlos Hernandez 69-

Crowd: 3123 Referee: Stuart Wolfe