A determined Newcastle Jets side suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Sydney FC in Hyundai A-League 2015/16 round 2 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Alex Brosque’s 89th minute header secured the win for Graham Arnold’s men against Scott Miller’s charges in front of a strong crowd of 12,173 supporters in Newcastle.
A clearly motivated Jets outfit showed plenty of structure and fighting spirit throughout their first home game of the new campaign.
Newcastle hit the back of the net via a Jason Hoffman header in the 36th minute, however the officials ruled the effort out for offside.
Replays indicated that Hoffman’s header should have stood – the defender in line with the Sydney FC backline when Brazilian attacking midfielder Leonardo floated the ball into the box.
12 minutes from full time Jets custodian Mark Birighitti was forced to leave the field with a nasty facial injury.
As the ‘keeper – who was outstanding throughout the match – came to collect the ball, Sydney striker Shane Smeltz struck him with his right boot.
Unfortunately, Smeltz’s contact dislodged several of Birighitti’s teeth, with the 24-year-old shot-stopper now likely to require surgery in the coming days.
Experienced Hyundai A-League goalkeeper Ben Kennedy replaced Birighitti between the sticks in the 79th minute.
Sydney scored their winner from a set piece in the last minute of regulation time.
Alex Gersbach’s corner was glanced on by Brosque, with the ball just evading Kennedy to nestle in the goal at the near post.
Newcastle Jets are at home again next Friday night against reigning Hyundai A-League Champions Melbourne Victory.
In his post match press conference, Miller said he was happy with the commitment and effort of his charges, but added that in attack the Jets needed to become more clinical.
“It’s disappointing to lose at home but we must make steps,” Miller said.
“We’re not creating enough, but at this point … everybody is playing to their ability.”
“It will just be a case of finding key passes and rhythm.”
“I’m just looking for a little bit more and to be a little bit more decisive in the final third," he said.
Tickets for Friday’s Jets vs. Melbourne Victory matchup can be purchase here.
Sydney FC 1 (Brosque 89’)
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Referee: Peter Green
Newcastle Jets: 1. Mark Birighitti (Gk) (20. Ben Kennedy 79’), 2. Daniel Mullen, 3. Jason Hoffman, 5. Ben Kantarovski, 6. Cameron Watson, 7. Enver Alivodic, 8. Mateo Poljak (C), 9. Milos Trifunovic, 10. Leonardo (14. Mitch Cooper 79’), 11. Labinot Haliti (25. Brandon Lundy 15’), 23. David Carney
Substitutes not used: 24. Nick Cowburn, 29. Andrew Pawiak
Yellow cards: Kantarovski
Red cards: Nil
Sydney FC: 1. Vedran Janjetovic (Gk), 2. Sebastian Ryall, 5. Matthew Jurman, 8. Milos Dimitrijevic (27. Mickael Tavares 70’), 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Milos Ninkovic, 11. Christopher Naumoff (24. George Blackwood 58’), 13. Brandon O’Neill, 14. Alex Brosque (C), 19. Jacques Faty, 23. Rhyan Grant (3. Alexander Gersbach 58’)
Substitutes not used: 18. Matthew Simon, 20. Ivan Necevski (Gk)
Yellow cards: Ryall
Red cards: Nil