Newcastle Jets completed the club’s Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season with a resounding 4-2 win over F3 Derby rivals Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Saturday.
Scott Miller’s Jets defeated Tony Walmsley’s Mariners 1-0 in late February on the banks of the Brisbane Water, and at the time that win marked the Jets’ first in Gosford in some ten years.
But Newcastle didn’t make their passionate fans wait nearly as long to earn another success south of the divide, backing up the February triumph with a dominant display at Central Coast Stadium to round out A-League season 11.
Former Danish international Morten Nordstrand scored the game’s opening goal after just 37 seconds after great work from Ryan Kitto down the left wing. Nordstrand’s header after Kitto had beaten Central Coast goalkeeper Paul Izzo to the ball outside the area was the fastest scored in the A-League this term.
Newcastle doubled their advantage in the 18th minute when Enver Alivodic scored his second of the season. Kitto once again made the assist, his low cross met firmly by the Serbian winger who guided his effort beyond Central Coast’s substitute shot stopper Adam Pearce.
The Jets recorded 21 shots in total throughout the game to Central Coast’s 12, highlighting the dominance of Miller’s men. Indeed, Newcastle ought to have headed to the sheds at the half time break with more than their two goals advantage, hadn’t it been for some wasteful finishing.
Mariners were awarded a penalty in the 50th minute when referee Jarred Gillett ruled that Ben Kantarovski had handled Roy O’Donovan’s touch in the box. Replays showed the ball had struck Kantarovski on the ribs, nevertheless Fabio Ferreira converted his chance from 12 yards.
The Jets reclaimed their two-goal advantage just three minutes after Ferreira’s penalty when Kitto made his third assist of the night and Nordstrand scored his second goal of the contest. Kitto’s sweet pass in from the left was classily flicked into the back of the net by the former FC Copenhagen star.
An errant pass out from the back by Daniel Mullen was seized upon by Central Coast in the 77th minute as Luis Garcia found Roy O’Donovan to reduce the arrears once again.
But Croatian midfield general Mateo Poljak – Newcastle’s captain on the night – made sure that the Jets got the win that their performance warranted when he bent an inch-perfect strike past Pearce in the 80th minute to round out the scoring.
Newcastle finished the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season in eighth place, five wins and 13 points better off than last campaign. Both the club’s offensive and defensive statistics improved, highlighting the on field improvement made since Miller and Jean-Paul de Marigny took over as the club’s senior coaches.
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Ferreira 51’ (pen), O’Donovan 77’)
Newcastle Jets 4 (Nordstrand 1’, 54’, Alivodic 18’, Poljak 80’)
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Attendance: 7,355 Newcastle Jets: 1. Mark Birighitti (Gk), 2. Daniel Mullen, 3. Jason Hoffman, 5. Ben Kantarovski, 7. Enver Alivodic (17. Radovan Pavicevic 90’), 8. Mateo Poljak (C), 10. Leonardo, 16. Steven Ugarkovic, 19. Morten Nordstrand, 24. Nicholas Cowburn, 28. Ryan Kitto (12. Andy Brennan 66’)
Substitutes not used: 6. Cameron Watson, 20. Ben Kennedy (Gk), 22. Lachlan Jackson
Yellow cards: Hoffman
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Paul Izzo (Gk) (30. Adam Pearce (Gk) 4’), 3. Josh Rose, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 5. Harry Ascroft, 6. Mitch Austin (28. Matthew Fletcher 67’), 7. Fabio Ferreira, 8. Nick Montgomery (C), 9. Roy O’Donovan, 10. Luis Garcia (15. Brad McDonald 88’), 16. Liam Rose, 21. Mickey Neill
Substitutes not used: 22. Jake McGing, 19. Josh Bingham
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil