The Newcastle Jets have had a result snatched away from them for the second time this week, as Brisbane Roar scored late to ensure the two sides took a point each away.
Merrick made some changes to his side following their loss to Adelaide, as Italiano replace Moss due to injury, while Johnny Koutroumbis made his return from a cancer diagnosis in late-2018.
The Jets were in everything early, owning the match through weight of possession and territory – picking up from where they left off against Adelaide.
Dimi Petratos opened the scoring early, putting one under Jamie Young in the sixth minute, gliding through the Brisbane defence as he beat two defenders on his way to goal.
It was a composed finish from the nimble attacker, who went close again just minutes later after being played into the area by Jason Hoffman – stopped by a swarm of defenders just before he could pull the trigger.
Georgievski and Hoffman were wreaking absolute havoc on the left edge, both full of running as they created plenty opportunities for the Jets moving forward.
The chances rained for the home side, as they racked up 16 shots in the opening half as the Roar just held on – namely thanks to Jamie Young and the woodwork.
An attacking free kick almost saw Petratos with a first half brace, thundering a shot onto the crossbar from 30-yards out. While a tip on from Young denied Hoffman, who spun and hit from the top of the area.
The break couldn’t come sooner for Brisbane as they headed to the sheds down a goal, however the Jets would be disappointed not to have more on the board.
The visitors took advantage of the spell at half-time and came out looking stronger than what they had in the opening stanza.
It was the Jets who almost doubled their advantage early on as Ronny Vargas turned Alex Lopez and fired one into the bottom corner, but it was ruled out for a foul in the lead-up.
Two more chances came Newcastle’s way shortly after, with Nigel Boogaard ripping one in from outside the box which was just over and Roy O’Donovan sent one wide from a way out.
Brisbane struck shortly after though to square things up, with Adam Taggart sliding in and firing home at the far post after a lovely turn from Connor O’Toole.
They were level for just two minutes though, as Nigel Boogaard grabbed himself an assist – teeing up Roy O’Donovan in the scraps of a corner to make it 2-1.
Newcastle had a golden chance to double their lead in the 80th minute after some superb work from Dimi Petratos teed up Roy O’Donovan, but he couldn’t wrap his foot around the shot and it went wide.
The miss would come back to haunt the Jets, as Eric Bautheac rose highest for a header at the back post in the 88th minute to see the two sides share the points.