Newcastle Jets displayed immense character and passion to produce one of the most memorable comebacks in club history on Friday, rallying from 2-0 down at half time to defeat Melbourne City 3-2 at AAMI Park.
Scott Miller’s men were – by Miller’s own post-match admission – well off their best in the first 45 in the Victorian capital, but turned the tables on the league’s richest club in the second stanza to pull off arguably the most entertaining win in the competition so far this campaign.
John van’t Schip’s side headed into the break with a strong advantage courtesy of goals to Aaron Mooy and Stefan Mauk.
Mooy opened the scoring in the 13th minute when his shot from outside the box cannoned off Jets defender Jason Hoffman, wrong footed Mark Birighitti, and nestled in the back of the net.
Mauk doubled Melbourne’s advantage less than ten minutes later when he finished off a flowing team move.
At the break, City probably thought they were headed for a cruisy three points in front of the 7,209 supporters in attendance.
At the very least, they wouldn’t have believed that by referee Jarred Gillett’s full time whistle they would be on the wrong side of the scoreline.
Newcastle’s comeback commenced when Ben Kantarovski scored just the second goal of his Hyundai A-League career in the 58th minute of play. After Enver Alivodic broke down the left and crossed, Mateo Poljak cushioned the ball back for Kantarovski. The long-serving Jets midfielder rose well to steer his header beyond experienced City custodian Thomas Sorensen.
Newcastle’s leveller came from the penalty spot via Serbian striker Milos Trifunovic. Trifunovic calmly dispatched his chance from 12 yards after Wade Dekker had been judged by Gillett to have thwarted a goalscoring chance for the Jets by handling a Hoffman cross.
Just four minutes after restoring parity to the contest, Trifunovic put his name up in lights by scoring the winner and claiming his third goal of the season. David Carney’s curling free kick into the area was met by the head of the former Bunyodkor goal-getter – Trifunovic leaving the highly regarded Sorensen with no chance.
The win over City lifts the Jets to first place on the Hyundai A-League table, for 24 hours at least. Sydney FC have the chance to return to the competition’s summit on Saturday afternoon when they take on Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
Melbourne City 2 (Mooy 13’, Mauk 22’)
Newcastle Jets 3 (Kantarovski 58’, Trifunovic 75’ & 79’ (pen))
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Newcastle Jets: 1. Mark Birighitti (Gk), 2. Daniel Mullen, 3. Jason Hoffman, 4. Nigel Boogaard (C), 5. Ben Kantarovski, 7. Enver Alivodic, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Milos Trifunovic, 13. Lee Ki-je, 14. Mitch Cooper (6. Cameron Watson 46’), 23. David Carney
Substitutes not used: 17. Radovan Pavicevic, 20. Ben Kennedy (Gk), 22. Lachlan Jackson, 24. Nicholas Cowburn
Yellow cards: Hoffman, Kantarovski, Lee, Carney, Trifunovic, Birighitti
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne City: 1. Thomas Sorensen (Gk), 4. Connor Chapman, 8. Aaron Mooy, 15. David Williams (7. Corey Gameiro 56’) 18. Paulo Retre, 19. Benjamin Garuccio, 21. Stefan Mauk, 23, Bruno Fornaroli, 24. Patrick Kisnorbo (C), 25. Jacob Melling, 28. Steve Kuzmanovski (17. Wade Dekker 55’)
Substitutes not used: 22. Jack Clisby, 36. Matthew Millar, 50. Alexander Pavlidis (Gk)
Yellow cards: Kuzmanovski, Gameiro
Red cards: Nil