Friday night's Round 2 trip to Adelaide was a very even match, in which both sides dominated their share of proceedings.
A goal in the 52nd minute put the Jets ahead and deservedly so, before an Adelaide equaliser shortly after and a fiery altercation in the final minutes made for an intriguing end.
It’s the first point of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season for the Jets, and a good platform to build on with an eye to next weekend’s Grand Final rematch at home to Melbourne Victory.
Ronnie Vargas took the breath of Jets fans away in just the fifth minute of play with a delightful turn between two defenders, and a shot which took a massive deflection on its way over the byline – but a corner wasn’t given.
Newcastle settled into the game quickly and soon began to take control of proceedings – Steven Ugarkovic and Vargas had shots of their own before Ken Ilso had Adelaide’s first shot of the night on the 20-minute mark.
The Jets were well on top, thanks to two things: a choking high press which was forcing Adelaide long and an effective middle three; Ugarkovic, Matt Ridenton, and Vargas, who were farming the ball all around the park.
Dimi Petratos showed just what he’s capable of shortly after, with a delightful counter-attacking move which started with a back-heel well within the Jets defence and a shot which went wide in the offensive third.
As the half wore on, Adelaide began to come back into the match and it was a former Jets man who was proving dangerous in Craig Goodwin. He hit the crossbar with a free kick and forced Glen Moss into a fantastic save at his near post before the half-time whistle.
The Jets started the second half positive through Jason Hoffman down the left-hand side, and with less than ten minutes gone Newcastle were on the board.
It was something of a comedy of errors from Adelaide, who made two errors to allow Jason Hoffman to charge into space. His ball across was perfect for Ronnie Vargas, who ghosted between two defenders and slotted home for his first ever Newcastle Jets goal.
It sparked a change from Adelaide, who brought on George Blackwood. The more natural number 9 had a positive and immediate impact on Adelaide’s game, and Steven Ugarkovic had to dive in to prevent the former Sydney man from getting the home side level minutes after his introduction.
Just past the hour mark, Adelaide did get level and it was through a former Jets man. Michael Maronne found himself in space out on the right-hand side, and his deep ball in met the head of Craig Goodwin. All he had to do was connect – and connect he did, and drew Adelaide level.
The visitors could have drawn level five minutes after Adelaide’s equaliser when Jason Hoffman met a perfectly floated ball across from Jair, but his header was straight at Paul Izzo.
The Reds had a couple of good chances through Ben Halloran and George Blackwood, and Nigel Boogaard made a superb tackle to deny the latter in the 79th-minute mark.
With the match winding down and both sides settling, things kicked off. A ball in from an Adelaide wide man evaded Daniel Georgievski, Glen Moss, and George Blackwood in the middle.
The Jets ‘keeper and Blackwood collided, and the home fans immediately called for a penalty but a free kick to Newcastle was awarded. This sparked a three-minute long push and shove, which finished in yellow cards to Adelaide goalkeeper Paul Izzo for dissent, along with Michael Jakobsen and Daniel Georgievski for an altercation.
From the coach
“As soon as I saw the referee’s hand go to his ear I was a little worried, but sense prevailed for once. It was a good game, it was end-to-end stuff and I think both teams were very even.
“We’re happy to come away with a point, it’s a tough place to come and play.
“Very happy with the first half, the pressure we applied gave us a few chances. I think we had twice as many chances in the first half and the second half evened itself up.
“They’re goal was a good cross and header, we could have got the winner from a cross from Jair to Jason – but that’s the way it fell, it was an even game.
“I think with the pressure each team put on the other there was some loose passes and some balls given away, but overall it was a good quality game of football.”
Adelaide United 1 (Goodwin 63’) drew Newcastle Jets 1 (Vargas 52’)
Friday 26 October, 7:50pm at Coopers Stadium