The Newcastle Jets have closed out their 2019-20 campaign with an impressive 3-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Thursday night.
Nick Fitzgerald continued his hot-streak in front of goal on the stroke of halftime before second-half strikes to Bernie Ibini and Jason Hoffman killed off the game, as the Phoenix desperately pushed for an equaliser.
In our final outing for the season, Carl Robinson handed a debut to 19-year-old gloveman Noah James, whilst Dimi Petratos and Abdiel Arroyo came into the starting side for Ibini and Roy O’Donovan.
With Wellington looking to keep their top-two hopes alive, the visitors started brightly and it was debutant James who was called into action in the eighth minute when he produced an excellent save to tip over Callan Elliot’s powerful effort. Five minutes later, he somehow kept out Matti Steinmann’s point-blank effort.
With the Phoenix enjoying the better of the opening stanza, it was the Jets who scored against the run of play on the stroke of halftime when Angus Thurgate combined nicely with Nick Fitzgerald on the edge of the Wellington area in the 45th minute.
Thurgate’s driving run created space for Fitzgerald and when Luke DeVere tried to block the shot, he could only manage to deflect the ball past his own keeper and into the back of the net as the Jets took a 1-0 lead into the halftime interval.
The Jets came out of the blocks firing in the second stanza and only a world-class piece of goalkeeping from Marinovic denied Dimi Petratos doubling the lead, when his powerful effort from the edge of the area forced a superb diving stop from the Phoenix gloveman in the 48th minute.
With the Phoenix pushing forward in search of an equaliser, the game began to open up and Thurgate went inches away from extending the lead in the 64th minute when his side-footed effort from a lightning counter-attack rebounded off the post and back into play.
James was having an outstanding debut at the other end for the Jets, and he had to react quickly again in the 73rd minute when Nikolai Topor-Stanley inadvertently diverted the ball towards his own goal before James was then able to scramble the ball away to safety.
Roy O’Donovan and Bernie Ibini were introduced by Robinson, as the Jets looked to kill off the game. The latter did just that when he was given space and time to run at the Wellington defence and produced a thunderous effort from 20 yards in the 76th minute that gave Marinovic no chance.
Just three minutes later, the lead extended again when the impressive Connor O’Toole whipped in a dangerous cross that found its way through to Dimi Petratos, who in turn teed up Jason Hoffman. The right wingback needed no invitation to lash the ball home via the underside of the bar as the Jets made it 3-0 after 79 minutes.
Ibini went close to doubling his tally six minutes from time with another howitzer of an effort, but there were to be no more goals in this clash as the Jets came away with an entertaining 3-0 victory to finish the campaign.
The win was the seventh in just 11 games since Carl Robinson was announced as the new Jets manager, a record better than any other side in the competition as we chased an unlikely finals appearance.
The result sees the Jets finish the season in 8th spot, leapfrogging Western Sydney Wanderers on the table, with 34 points from our 26 matches.