Newcastle Jets returned to the Hyundai A-League’s top six with an entertaining 2-1 victory against Melbourne City in Coffs Harbour on Friday night.
The fans in Northern New South Wales were treated to a thrilling end-to-end match of football in which Andrew Nabbout led the Jets to glory.
City came out of the blocks the quickest, dominating possession and field position in the opening ten minutes.
However, it was the Jets provided the sucker-punch when Ma Leilei provided a pinpoint pass through the middle to Nabbout who streaked away, stepped around City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, and rolled it home with his left boot.
The strike seemed to spur the visitors on with Bruno Fornaroli going close on a couple of occasions with his head and Bruce Kamau causing plenty of problems down the right edge.
Right on half-time Melbourne midfielder Luke Brattan had a strike from well outside the box, which Jets keeper Jack Duncan managed to stop.
The Jets went into the break leading by a goal to nil.
Immediately after the break the Jets went close as Morten Nordstrand headed an Andrew Hoole free kick from the left edge just over the bar.
The home side extended their lead in the 52nd minute when Nabbout produced a special strike. Hoole squared to Nabbout, and the former Negeri Sembilan man unleashed a powerful shot which arrowed into the bottom left corner, beating Bouzanis for pace.
City went within inches of clawing back a goal in the 65th minute as Kamau once more created space down the right edge. The right-winger angled his way down the right side of the box and crossed towards a diving Fernando Brandan at the back post who just couldn’t reach the pass.
In the 69th minute City did have a goal back when Nabbout turned villain. Ivan Franjic was fouled by Nabbout as he cut down the right edge of the box. Bruno Fornaroli stepped up to the spot, and placed it into the left corner. Duncan got a touch, but not enough to prevent the goal.
The visitors continued to press - substitute Fernando Brandan headed a cross from the right just onto the roof of the net.
After some end-to-end action, the Jets should have doubled their advantage in the 77th minute when Nabbout played in Steven Ugarkovic down the left edge. Ugarkovic swerved from the left into the middle and played in an unmarked Ma on the right. Instead of hitting the shot Ma attempted to chip Bouzanis and City were able to clear their lines.
Hoole had a moment to seal the match in the 85th minute when he burst down the left side only to blast it high into the night sky.
City had a late chance to equalise with a free kick from just outside the box on the left. Nicolas Colazo stepped up and fired just wide to the left.
Newcastle held on, after a frantic final few moments, to take the three points with a 2-1 victory.
Newcastle Jets 2 (Nabbout 14’, 52’)
Melbourne City 1 (Fornaroli 69’ (pen))
Venue: C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour
Referee: Kurt Ams
Newcastle Jets: 2. Daniel MULLEN, 3. Jason HOFFMAN, 4. Nigel BOOGAARD, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 7. Andrew HOOLE, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. MA Leilei (12. Harrison SAWYER 78’), 19. Morten NORDSTRAND (28. John KOUTROUMBIS 89), 20. Jack DUNCAN (Gk), 22. Lachlan JACKSON
Substitutes not used: 16. Nicholas COWBURN, 23. Devante CLUT, 50. Tomislav ARČABA
Yellow cards: Ugarkovic, Sawyer
Red cards: Nil