The Newcastle Jets have extended their unbeaten run to four games after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Taking charge for the first time at home, Carl Robinson named an unchanged lineup after last week’s 1-1 draw against the Wanderers, but there was one big inclusion on the substitutes bench with Wes Hoolahan being named for the first time since picking up a serious ankle injury in September last year.
The Jets were unlucky to take all three points after coming from behind last weekend and started the game in a positive manner and Abdiel Arroyo thought he had opened the scoring on two occasions, only to be twice denied by the referee’s whistle.
In the 8th minute, the ball fell kindly to the Panamanian striker who produced a neat finish past Lawrence Thomas, however the ball had struck referee Faghani in the buildup and was brought back for a drop-ball.
Eight minutes later, Arroyo had the ball in the back of the net again as he produced a deft glancing header but the goal was disallowed once again, this time as the assistant’s flag had gone up for offside.
The only thing missing from a dominant opening stanza was a goal, but after 24 minutes it was fan favourite Roy O’Donovan who opened the scoring after Dimi Petratos found the Irish striker perfectly in the box.
After Petratos was found in space down the right side, he drove into the box and cut the ball back to O’Donovon, whose finished rebounded off the crossbar and over the line before bouncing clear and being cleared by the Victory defence. As the game continued, VAR intervened and alerted Faghani that the ball had crossed the line and the goal was given and the Jets took a deserved lead.
Despite dominating the remainder of the half, the Jets couldn’t add to their lead and took the lead into the sheds after one of their brightest 45 minutes of the season.
Unfortunately for the home side, Victory started the second period in a much-improved fashion and it was their skipper who equalised in the 49th minute when Ola Toivonen ghosted into the back post and headed home an equaliser for his side.
With an hour gone, Carl Robinson played his trump card as he brought on Hoolahan in the place of the industrious Thurgate, and the Irish Messi had an instant impact when his through ball found Matt Millar in the penalty area, who appeared to be felled by Adama Traore but despite the strong penalty appeals, referee Faghani waved play on.
As both managers chased all three points, the game flowed from end-to-end, and in the dying moments both sides wasted golden opportunities to snatch a late winner.
In the third and final minute of added time, a Dimi Petratos corner found the head of his brother Kosta at the near post, but he could not keep his header down, before Marco Rojas had a chance to win the game for the visitors when he forced Italiano into a crucial save after finding himself one-on-one with the Jets gloveman.
The Jets now turn their attentions to their Round 21 clash when they host Perth Glory on Saturday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium.