REVIEW: Resilient Jets show fight against Phoenix

There were no stoppage-time heroics from the Jets but they showed plenty of heart to fight back – not once – but twice in front of 8,451 fans on Boxing Day at McDonald Jones Stadium. Wellington led 1-0 and 2-1 but on both occasions Newcastle were able to peg them back thanks to some brilliance from Andrew Hoole and Andrew Nabbout.

The Jets created the bulk of the opening chances with Nabbout slicing the Phoenix apart down the left edge, but the former Negeri Sembilan man couldn’t get enough power on his shot and struck it straight at Wellington goalkeeper Glen Moss.

Gui Finkler went almightily close for the visitors in the 31st minute with his free kick from just outside the box on the left striking the left post.

Steven Ugarkovic was the next Jet to go close, as he hit a shot from outside the box but he too was unable to beat Moss.

In the 35th minute the Phoenix made the Jets pay for their poor finishing as some neat interplay from the Phoenix saw Kosta Barbarouses weave his way through the Jets defence before rolling his shot past Jack Duncan from close range.

Newcastle were unlucky not to restore parity before half-time as Ivan Vujica angled down the left edge and powered his way through some Wellington defence before unleashing a powerful shot which was well saved by Moss.

Down 1-0 at the break, the home side needed an early goal in the second stanza and Hoole delivered. Coming off the bench to replace Devante Clut at half-time, Morten Nordstrand put a square pass from the right on a platter for Hoole who rolled it home with aplomb into the bottom left corner.

The Jets went to sleep just two minutes later though, allowing Roy Krishna to run down the right edge, cut into the box and square for Finkler who tapped in for a 2-1 lead to the Nix.

But, Newcastle weren’t down for long thanks to some Andrew Nabbout magic. Nabbout swerved past defenders down the left edge, entered the box and curled his right foot shot inside the right corner to raise the roof at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Jets pressed purposefully for the remainder of the match and could, and possibly should, have secured all three points.

Nabbout went within millimetres of winning it for the home side in the 89th minute as he ran onto a pass down the right edge of the box, just stabbing his shot into the side netting.

In stoppage time Nabbout went close again from the right edge, this time just sliding his shot wide to the left of goal.

Wellington somehow withstood the late Jets pressure to grab a point in a 2-2 draw where Newcastle will feel they probably should have taken all three points.

The Jets’ next match is early in 2017 when the Club heads south to Geelong to tackle Melbourne Victory on Monday 2 January.

Newcastle Jets 2 (Hoole 48’, Nabbout 62’)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Barbarouses 35’, Finkler 50’)
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Attendance: 8,451

Newcastle Jets: 2. Daniel MULLEN, 3. Jason HOFFMAN, 4. Nigel BOOGAARD (C) (28. John KOUTROUMBIS 54’), 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 7. Andrew HOOLE, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 10. Wayne BROWN (18. MA Leilei 87’), 13. Ivan VUJICA, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 20. Jack DUNCAN (Gk), 23. Devante CLUT (19. Morten NORDSTRAND 46’)
Substitutes not used: 16. Nicholas COWBURN, 30. Pierce CLARK (Gk)
Yellow cards: Ugarkovic, Koutroumbis
Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Glen MOSS (Gk), 2. Jacob TRATT, 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 8. Gui FINKLER (23. Matthew RIDENTON 82’), 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 12. Adam PARKHOUSE (5. Ryan LOWRY 87’), 13. Marco ROSSI, 17. Vince LIA, 19. Thomas DOYLE (11. Hamish WATSON 68’), 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (C)
Substitutes not used: 16. Louis FENTON, 20. Lewis ITALIANO (Gk)
Yellow cards: Tratt
Red cards: Nil