Scott Miller’s reign as Newcastle Jets boss got off to a strong start on Sunday with his side downing Wellington Phoenix 2-1 in New Zealand.
Goals to midfielder David Carney and the club’s new Serbian striker Milos Trifunović on debut ensured that the Jets edged Ernie Merrick’s men at Westpac Stadium.
Roly Bonevacia scored Phoenix’s only goal of the game deep into time added on at the end of the first half, and while the highly rated Wellington did regularly threaten the Jets backline during the contest, some desperate defending from Miller’s men plus outstanding goalkeeping by Mark Birighitti ultimately denied the hosts.
Indeed, Birighitti thwarted Fijian star Roy Krishna just after the break when he pulled off a superb save from a penalty after Daniel Mullen was adjudged to have brought down Blake Powell in the box.
And Birighitti was world-class moments before full time, stretching low to his right to parry another strike from Krishna away from goal.
Newcastle ended the game with ten-men after captain Nigel Boogaard was sent off with 13 minutes remaining. Boogaard was dismissed for two yellow cards and will unfortunately miss the club’s first home match of the campaign against Sydney FC on Saturday.
The Jets broke the deadlock on the half hour when Carney rose to meet Lee Ki-je’s pinpoint cross and glance the ball beyond Glen Moss.
Phoenix levelled when Bonevacia prodded past Birighitti just seconds before the break.
But Trifunović ensured that he started his time with the Jets in perfect fashion with 20 minutes remaining, latching on to a precise Carney cross to net the winner from close range.
[FULL TIME] Round 1 winners are GRINNERS! Goals to David CARNEY & Milos TRIFUNOVIĆ on debut have helped us secure a...Posted by Newcastle Jets on Sunday, 11 October 2015
Post-match, Newcastle Jets Head Coach Miller was proud of the way his players executed the game plan and doggedly fought for the shirt.
“We set up in a certain way today and stuck to the task,” Miller said. “We showed good maturity towards the end of the game with players like Ben Kantarovski and Labinot Haliti filling in in roles that there not necessarily used to.”
“While we had some sloppy patches, at other times we showed composure in retaining the ball.
“We know we can play much better, but we expected to win and showed pure endeavour to get the result we wanted.
“The players and staff demonstrated their commitment to the club today, and we’ll take confidence from the win.
“While it’s important for everyone to enjoy our small successes, we’ll be shifting our focus quickly to Saturday’s home match against Sydney FC,” he said.
Tickets for Jets vs. Sydney FC on Saturday 17 October are on sale now, as are the club’s Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season Memberships.
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Bonevacia 45+2’)
Newcastle Jets 2 (Carney 30’, Trifunovic 71’)
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
Referee: Shaun Evans
Newcastle Jets: 1. Mark Birighitti (Gk), 2. Daniel Mullen, 3. Jason Hoffman, 4. Nigel Boogaard (C), 6. Cameron Watson (5. Ben Kantarovski 61’), 7. Enver Alivodic, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Milos Trifunovic (14. Mitch Cooper 90+3’), 10. Leonardo (11. Labinot Haliti 81’), 13. Lee Ki-je, 23. David Carney
Substitutes not used: 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 20. Ben Kennedy (Gk)
Yellow cards: Boogaard x2, Carney, Kantarovski, Poljak, Alivodic
Red cards: Boogaard
Wellington Phoenix: 1. Glen Moss (Gk), 2. Manny Muscat, 4. Roly Bonevacia, 10. Michael McGlinchey, 12. Blake Powell (7. Jeffrey Sarpong 61’), 13. Albert Riera, 16. Louis Fenton (8. Alex Rodriguez 75’), 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 21. Roy Krishna, 22. Andrew Durante (C) (19. Thomas Doyle 27’)
Substitutes not used: 11. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, 20. Lewis Italiano (Gk)
Yellow cards: Lia, Krishna
Red cards: Nil