Steven Ugarković’s first goal for the club helped fire Scott Miller’s Newcastle Jets to a deserved F3 Derby defeat of Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday.
Ugarkovic struck in the 57th minute of play after Mariners defender Joshua Rose had failed to deal with Morten Nordstrand’s forward pass.
The young midfielder, who has made a telling impact for the club since signing with the Jets in January, curled a clinical right foot shot beyond Central Coast custodian Paul Izzo from just inside the box to net what would prove to be the only goal of an open and largely entertaining and combative F3 Derby duel.
The Jets had the better of the play in the first 45 and could, and probably should, have headed to the sheds at half time with an advantage.
While Miller’s side were fluent in their build-up play, their final touch in front of goal was lacking, and chances came and went to Enver Alivodic, Ugarkovic, Milos Trifunovic, Mateo Poljak, and Nordstrand.
Spanish superstar Luis Garcia looked the most likely outlet for the Mariners, but he pushed a header wide of the target in the 20th minute before curling a right foot strike past Mark Birighitti’s left post four minutes later.
While the Jets started the second stanza somewhat slow, Ugarkovic ensured the five to six hundred Jets supporters who had made their way to Gosford for the game had something to celebrate shortly before the hour mark when he punished some lapse Mariners defending.
Newcastle were denied the chance to extend their lead with 12 minutes to remaining when a clear two-on-one breakaway was called back for a foul when advantage should have been played.
Central Coast’s only effort on goal came in the second minute of time added on nearing the end of the encounter when substitute Dan Heffernan angled a low strike from close range towards goal. But the attacker’s best attempt was denied by some brilliant, committed defending by Daniel Mullen.
Newcastle Jets hadn’t won in Gosford since 2008, nor had the team beaten Mariners at any venue since 2012. But on Sunday the team and coaching staff gave their passionate band of travelling supporters every reason to leave the Central Coast singing, dancing, and smiling ear to ear.
POST #F3DERBY SCENES! Were you in the thick of it like Hoff, Birraz, or Scotty Miller? Share or tag a mate & spread the Gosford glory!Posted by Newcastle Jets on Sunday, 28 February 2016
Central Coast Mariners 0
Newcastle Jets 1 (Ugarkovic 57’)
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Referee: Ben Williams
Newcastle Jets: 1. Mark Birighitti (Gk), 2. Daniel Mullen, 3. Jason Hoffman, 4. Nigel Boogaard (C), 7. Enver Alivodic, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Milos Trifunovic, 10. Leonardo (5. Ben Kantarovski 90+3’), 16. Steven Ugarkovic, 19. Morten Nordstrand (14. Mitch Cooper 82’), 24. Nick Cowburn
Substitutes not used: 6. Cameron Watson, 20. Ben Kennedy (Gk), 22. Lachlan Jackson
Yellow cards: Mullen, Poljak
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Paul Izzo (Gk), 3. Joshua Rose, 5. Harry Ascroft, 6. Mitchell Austin, 8. Nick Montgomery (C), 10. Luis Garcia (14. Daniel Heffernan 61’), 12. Trent Buhagiar (22. Jake McGing 75’), 16. Liam Rose, 19. Josh Bingham, 21. Michael Neill, 23. Tomislav Uskok (15. Brad McDonald 82’)
Substitutes not used: 13. Alistair Bray (Gk), 25. Adam Berry
Yellow cards: Uskok, Montgomery, McGing
Red cards: Nil