Newcastle Jets suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in front of 14,886 supporters at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
It was a tough loss to take for a Jets side that fought valiantly all game, but will rue several missed chances.
It was an entertaining arm wrestle of a first half as both sides looked to press high defensively, leaving the game played in the middle and lacking a little pace.
Neither team could create many chances early in the encounter, however the game exploded into life towards the end of the first half.
First, Milos Trifunovic put his headed effort just over the bar after a great interchange between Enver Alivodic and Lee Ki-je.
The Wanderers could have gone close to half time, however Mark Birighitti brilliantly saved Dario Vidosic’s volley from point-blank range.
The Jets then had a chance of their own, as Leonardo broke up the pitch and drew two defenders before finding Trifunovic on the edge of the box. Trifunovic shaped to cross however his effort was on target and nearly caught Andrew Redmayne out at his near post.
The Jets started the second half the better of the two sides and created multiple chances, the first of which fell to captain Nigel Boogaard.
Boogaard made a crucial interception towards halfway and then set off on a forward run. Carney played a no-look pass back into the path of Boogaard, who found himself with only Redmayne to beat but sent his shot high and wide.
Carney was right in the thick of the action playing another reverse pass only minutes later. This time the former Socceroo played Ben Kantarovski in behind, but the Broadmeadow Magic junior sent his strike into the side netting.
The Jets eventually found the back of the net via Alivodic. Lee’s 73rd minute free kick cannoned back off the crossbar, but the Serbian midfielder was on hand to finish from the edge of the six-yard box.
While Alivodic celebrated, confusion amongst the crowd was clear. The linesman appeared to wave his flag for offside, but after deliberation with the referee the goal stood.
The Jets’ joy was short-lived though as the Wanderers hit back through a controversial penalty decision. Trifunovic made light contact with Wanderers attacker Brendon Santalab, who fell to the ground. Spaniard Andreu converted from the spot.
The last ten minutes were a scramble from end to end as both sides pushed for a winner, though it was the Wanderers who managed to find the net. Mitch Nichols found himself just outside the box with plenty of room and drove his shot low past Birighitti, to give Tony Popovic’s side the winner four minutes from time.
The Jets didn’t give up and almost rescued a point close to the full time whistle, although Trifunovic could only drive his header from the penalty spot straight at Redmayne.
Newcastle Jets will return to Hunter Stadium for Hyundai A-League 2015/16 round 6 on Saturday 14 November. The match will be the first F3 Derby of the season, with arch-rivals Central Coast Mariners coming to town.
Newcastle Jets 1 (Alivodic 73’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Andreu 80’ (pen), Nichols 86’)
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Newcastle Jets: 1. Mark Birighitti (Gk), 3. Jason Hoffman, 4. Nigel Boogaard (C), 5. Ben Kantarovski (6. Cameron Watson 59’), 7. Enver Alivodic, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Milos Trifunovic, 10. Leonardo, 13. Lee Ki-je, 22. Lachlan Jackson, 23. David Carney
Substitutes not used: 14. Mitch Cooper, 17. Radovan Pavicevic, 20. Ben Kennedy (Gk), 24. Nicholas Cowburn
Yellow cards: Carney, Watson
Red cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers: 3. Scott Jamieson, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (C), 6. Mitch Nichols, 8. Dimas Delgado, 9. Federico Piovaccari (11. Brendon Santalab 75’), 10. Dario Vidosic (19. Mark Bridge 58’), 12. Scott Neville, 16. Jaushua Sotirio (7. Romeo Castelen 78’), 18. Andreu, 20. Andrew Redmayne (Gk), 22. Jonathan Aspropotamitis
Substitutes not used: 1. Dean Bouzanis (Gk), 21. Jacob Pepper
Yellow cards: Topor-Stanley, Andreu, Nichols
Red cards: Nil