Billed as a must-win for Newcastle, the assignment is one which has been historically tough: away to Wellington Phoenix.
It only got tougher with 33 seconds gone as David Williams burst through to give Wellington a crucial lead with less than a minute played
Despite a Jets goal with a little over an hour played, it was a lead which the Phoenix didn’t surrender and the Jets ultimately fell to a disappointing 4-1 win.
With the complexion of the game turned on its head in the opening minute, the Jets came forward at Wellington as the scoreline now dictated they must.
Jair had a golden opportunity to square the scores with seven minutes on the clock after a pinpoint Daniel Georgievski cutback found him on the penalty spot, but his side-footed effort was wide.
As the match settled into a prolonged period of Jets domination countered by Phoenix counter-attacking, chances dried up. The next real opportunity for Newcastle came via a Dimi Petratos free kick in the 27th minute, but Filip Kurto in the Phoenix goal saved his swerving shot.
A snap save at the other end, Glen Moss denying Max Burgess from distance after Wellington won the ball in the middle of the park, kept the deficit at a single goal with half hour gone.
Lachy Jackson had a good chance inside the six yard box in a rare foray into the attacking third with forty minutes gone, but his header was over the bar.
On the other side of the break, it was another centre-back who had an opportunity in front of goal – Nigel Boogaard – as a Kurto save from a corner fell at his feet. He could only connect with the knee however, and sent it wide.
As the game crept on, balanced on a knife-edge, it was Wellington who took the upper hand and doubled their advantage via a penalty awarded with the assistance of the VAR, converted by David Williams.
Straight away up the other end however, the Jets grabbed one back and halved the deficit through a clever flick in the midst of a set piece from Roy O’Donovan.
However, the 2-1 scoreline didn’t last for long. A sensational strike from David Williams, who turned and curled a superb shot into the top corner, earned him his hat-trick and Wellington their third goal of the evening.
The home side added another one – a curling, left-footed strike from outside the area off the boot of Sarpreet Singh – and Wellington finished as winners in New Zealand.