Ma Leilei’s maiden goal for the Club plus Wayne Brown’s second of the season were the highlights for Newcastle Jets on Monday evening as Mark Jones’ side fell 4-2 to Melbourne Victory in Geelong.
The Jets started the contest southwest of Melbourne well, generating the better of the play in the first half hour of the game.
But the match was turned on its head in the 30th minute when Victory received a contentious penalty after Johnny Koutroumbis was ruled to have handled the ball in the box.
Replays showed that the ball had in fact struck Koutroumbis’ chest rather than his arm, however that would ultimately matter little as Victory’s Besart Berisha fired his spot-kick past Jack Duncan from 12-yards.
Just five minutes later Victory took further control of the contest when James Troisi provided a great cross into the area which the dangerous Marco Rojas finished to make the score 2-0.
Desperate to claw their way back into the clash the Jets started the second stanza positively and should have been awarded a penalty of their own when the ball struck Carl Valeri shortly before the hour mark.
While Jones’ team ought to have had the chance to make the score 2-1, instead just two minutes later Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s strike just found its way over the goal line at the other end of Simonds Stadium despite the best efforts of Duncan, which made the score 3-0.
But the scoring in the game was only half done. Chinese import Ma Leilei breathed life into the Jets’ comeback efforts in the 61st minute with a low angled drive that whizzed past Lawrence Thomas from outside the box to make the score 3-1.
Victory went three goals ahead for the second time in the match eight minutes later when Troisi capitalised on some lax Jets defending.
Brown reduced the arrears again with 14 minutes left when his strike from the edge of the area took a deflection before finding its way passed Thomas.
Newcastle Jets worked doggedly in the final stages of the game in an attempt to score another and force a dramatic ending to the contest, but efforts from winger Andrew Hoole and substitute striker Aleksandr Kokko didn’t have enough power behind them to seriously trouble Thomas.
Newcastle will return to the Hunter Valley on Tuesday, before completing a short preparation for Saturday’s round 14 away battle with Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
Melbourne Victory 4 (Berisha 30’ (pen), Rojas 35’, Khalfallah 60’, Troisi 69’)
Newcastle Jets 2 (Ma 61', Brown 76’)
Venue: Simonds Stadium, Geelong
Referee: Chris Beath
Newcastle Jets: 2. Daniel MULLEN, 3. Jason HOFFMAN, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 7. Andrew HOOLE, 8. Mateo POLJAK (9. Aleksandr KOKKO 82’), 10. Wayne BROWN (C), 13. Ivan VUJICA (16. Nicholas COWBURN 41’), 15. Andrew NABBOUT (18. MA Leilei 56’), 19. Morten NORDSTRAND, 20. Jack DUNCAN (Gk), 28. John KOUTROUMBIS
Substitutes not used: 22. Lachlan JACKSON, 30. Pierce CLARK (Gk)
Substitutes not used: 4. Nicholas ANSELL, 40. Matthew ACTON (Gk)