Father’s Day on the Gold Coast made for a spectacular day, with the conditions at Croatian Sports Centre bordering on picturesque.
From a travelling squad of 22, just 17 boys were at Ernie Merrick’s disposal for the fixture with Brisbane Roar.
The defensive quartet of Nigel Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Glen Moss, and Lachlan Jackson all missed out through injury. Jack Simmons, struck down with a virus, didn’t leave the team hotel.
Early signs were positive for the Jets, with some clever work down the left-hand side ending up with Jason Hoffman curling one into the area for Abdiel Arroyo. The ball was a touch on the high side however, and the Panamanian’s header was over the top.
The game was shifting in our favour in the 14th minute, when another well-worked move – this time down the right-hand side – saw a number of players have a go through a crowd of legs, before Nick Fitzgerald’s scissor kick was saved.
A sucker punch saw Brisbane go up the other end just two minutes later however, with youngster Mirza Muratovic poking the opening goal home at the near post.
Lewis Italiano was called into action in two moments of note in the ensuing twenty minutes which followed, before a golden chance was denied by the offside flag.
Again on the left-hand side, Jason Hoffman worked well to whip in another ball with his left foot which Wes Hoolahan, one of the Jets best in the opening half, hit sweetly with his left.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, the shot couldn’t work it’s way past Abdiel Arroyo, off whom it took a massive deflection and caused the linesman to raise his flag.
Five minutes later, Brisbane made the Jets pay when Brad Inman curled one into the bottom corner from just inside the 18-yard box to make the score 2-0.
Ernie Merrick made two changes to begin the second half, with Ben Kantarovski and Angus Thurgate entering the fray to replace Matt Millar and Wes Hoolahan respectively.
Millar had been involved in a head knock in the late stages of the first half which left him with a shiner post-match, but tests cleared him of a concussion.
The changes, and Merrick’s half-time words, proved a masterstroke as the Jets pulled one back in less than a minute. The new man on, Thurgate, sent a ball in from the right to the feet of Nick Fitzgerald.
The wide man, situated on the left-hand side for this encounter, trapped the ball between his legs before letting it drop and placing it in the far corner to make it 2-1.
With a renewed wind in the sails, Newcastle set about finding a second and for a period, it looked just a matter of time before it came. Fitzgerald continued to cause trouble down the left-hand side, before a Dimi Petratos shot from the edge of the area was well-saved on the hour mark.
A series of substitutions across the next ten minutes saw the Jets line-up change further, with Kosta and Maki Petratos, along with Kaine Sheppard entering the fray in place of Matt Ridenton, Dimi Petratos, and Nick Fitzgerald.
Lewis Italiano made a sharp save with 73 minutes gone to deny Brad Inman, but there was little the ‘keeper could do in the 81st when the Roar striker fired in a header from close range.
A deflection sent it over the head of Italiano, and into the back of the net to give Brisbane their third and final goal of the night.
"We played some really good football, very intense, and given our heavy training schedule, it was a really good conditioning workout for us," Ernie Merrick told the Newcastle Herald.
"Credit to Brisbane, they scored three goals to our one, but I was particularly impressed with the way our midfield played.
"Matty Ridenton really ran the show in the middle of midfield ... we probably had more possession in their defensive half and defensive third than they had in ours, and more shots. There were lots of good signs there."
The boys will now look ahead to the second and final game of the Surf City Cup, against Perth Glory on Tuesday night.