Newcastle Jets Youth started their 2016 Northern NSW NPL campaign with a pulsating 3-3 draw against Weston Workers Bears at Rockwell Automation Park on Sunday afternoon.
Clayton Zane’s young side made a nervous start which saw Bears forward Garry McDermott hit the crossbar with a delicate chip inside the first 10 minutes.
Jets Youth found their feet shortly after and went close through a Charlie Horsley header and a blistering long range strike from new recruit Aaron Niyonkuru, which was well saved by Weston keeper Benn Kelly.
The Jets wrestled momentum their way and took the lead through Cameron Joice on 29 minutes. The Jets caught the Bears on the counter, before an early cross from Horsley on the left found Joice in the box. With Kelly and two defenders blocking the goal, the former FFA Centre of Excellence and Joeys striker calmly sent them to ground before finding the net.
The home side were not behind for long, as the Bears pulled themselves level seven minutes later. The Jets defence failed to deal with a high, hopeful ball into the six yard box which was nodded across the line before being tapped into an empty net by an unmarked McDermott.
Two minutes before the break McDermott was on hand again to turn the game on its head and put his side ahead at the interval. This time it was the Bears’ turn to hit on the break – a spilled shot fell kindly to the Bears striker to once again finish from close range.
The Jets started the second half equally as slow as the first and were lucky not to find themselves further behind shortly after the restart. Andrew Pawiak cleared a header off the line at the near post from a Bears corner, then Robert MacBeth’s long range strike smashed into the crossbar minutes later.
Weston couldn’t make their early second half dominance count and the Jets made them pay in the 57th minute as they levelled proceedings at 2-2. Against the run of play, winger Finn Parris’ cross was diverted into the net by the unfortunate Nathan Morris via a Robbie Turnbull clearance, which cannoned into the Bears captain and left Kelly with no chance in the Weston goal.
The Bears eventually had something to show for their second half efforts when McDermott completed his hat-trick on the hour mark, smartly diverting a cross from the right past Jez Murray at the near post and into the roof of the net.
The Jets refused to buckle despite the setback and once again swung the momentum their way. Three minutes after falling behind, Jets Youth were presented with a chance to restore parity once again, this time from the penalty spot as Cody Carroll had his feet swept out from underneath him in the box. Pawiak took responsibility and the captain made no mistake with his spot kick, coolly sending Kelly the wrong way to level the game at 3-3.
The Jets pushed hard for a winner, seeing the majority of possession and territory in the final half hour but they could not find a way past Kelly again. The Bears’ shot-stopper singlehandedly kept his side in the match as time ticked away, making save after save to deny Parris, Tom Waller and then Carroll three times, including an 89th minute one-on-one when it seemed certain the Jets’ number 10 would score.
As time was called on the seesawing contest, both sides would have to settle for a point each.
Clayton Zane’s side is in action again next Sunday afternoon when they take on Charlestown City Blues at Lisle Carr Oval, Whitebridge
Newcastle Jets Youth 3 (Joice 29’, Morris 57’ (OG), Pawiak 63’ (pen))
Weston Workers Bears 3 (McDermott 36’, 43’, 60’)
Rockwell Automation Park, Weston
Newcastle Jets Youth: 1. Jez Murray (GK), 2. Rhyan Smith, 3. Ryan Ensor, 4. Caio De Godoy, 5. Jake McGuinness, 6. Andrew Pawiak (C), 7. Finn Parris, 8. Aaron Niyonkuru, 9. Cameron Joice, 10. Cody Carroll, 11. Charlie Horsley
Substitutes: 12. Adam Cawley, 14. Tom Waller, 15. Kristian Brymora
Yellow cards: Pawiak (C) 4’, Murray (GK) 9’.
Red cards: Nil
Weston Workers Bears: 20. Benn Kelly (GK), 2. Nathan Morris (C), 3. Robbie Turnbull, 6. Greg Anderson, 7. Lee Ashton, 8. Zac Sneddon, 10. Garry McDermott, 13. Michael Ryan, 14. Robert MacBeth, 23. Lachlan Rowen, 28. Will Myers
Substitutes: 11. Mitchell Wallace, 16. Nathan Stevens, 17. Jake Barner
Yellow cards: Anderson 90+3’
Red cards: Nil