Coming off a bye and facing the reigning premiers, it looked a tall task for the Jets against Edgeworth on Saturday night.
In the end though, it was a case of what could have been for the young Newcastle crew who bookended the scoring in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
With a week’s rest under their belts and more than a fortnight to reflect on the big win over Charlestown in Round 1 of the NPL Northern NSW, the Jets started stronger at Edgeworth.
The boys looked comfortable in possession and content with patience in the opening stages, but it still took a wonderful Noah James save down low to his right to deny Dylan Holz with ten minutes gone.
Matt Barkho had a good chance midway through the half after some nice interplay between he and Maki Petratos, but Barkho’s shot was straight at Edgeworth’s Josh Low in goals.
The fresh Jets striker, recently joined from Southern District Rangers, had another chance shortly after when he broke into the box and was felled by Low – earning his side a penalty.
Barkho stepped up, and confidently slotted home to give the Jets the advantage.
The number seven might have had a second shortly after when Joey O’Connor broke down the left and squared a ball up for Barkho, but he scuffed his shot and the Jets headed to the sheds ahead.
Edgeworth came out strong in the second half, with Will Bower denied a chance on goal in the 49th minute thanks to a crucial Tom Beecham interception.
A sustained period of Edgeworth pressure saw Josh Rose fire one well over the bar after he received the ball at the top of the box in the afters of a corner, but a goal was on its way for the home side.
The goalscorer was youngster, Jose Atayde, who fired a low shot across the face of Noah James’ goal and into the far corner to draw the scores level.
James was on hand shortly after, with a quick double-save to keep Newcastle level but there was little he could do in the 72nd minute when Will Bower got in behind and prodded home to give Edgeworth the advantage.
It wasn’t a lead which they held onto for long though, and it was a spectacular leveller from a young Jet.
A fantastic, fast transition from back-to-front saw Joey O’Connor played the ball in a high and wide position out to the left. It aimed a cross into the area – which at first looked wayward – but sensationally found the back of the net to make the scores 2-2.
As the game wore down, both sides had a number of key chances to go ahead with the Eagles perhaps edging the opportunities available.
There was a lengthy stoppage late on as Edgeworth striker, Oliver Smith went down inside the box and was visibly in some pain. He was stretched from the pitch.
A former young Jet in Josh Cairelli came closest to breaking the deadlock in the second minute of injury time, only to be denied by Noah James, while Cole Mutton will be ruing what could have been after flashing one across the face in the 98th minute.
In the end though, neither side could find a late winner and it finished 2-2 at Edgeworth.
Edgeworth Eagles 2 (Atayde 64’, Bower 72’) drew Newcastle Jets Youth 2 (Barkho PEN 28’, O’Connor 74’)
Saturday 23 March, 7.30pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval