Shandong prove too strong at Weifang

The Jets final group game of the Weifang Cup was against the tournament hosts, Shandong Luneng at the Academy’s main stadium.

A 9am kick-off provided little comfort for the players with temperature soaring into the early 30s.

The locals got off to a flyer with Jets caught napping at the back, conceding a goal in the second minute of play.

Things got worse only minutes later when central defender, Tommy Beecham looked to clear a cross with his head, only to find the back of his own net.

The Jets looked to have settled into the game after the early setbacks and Maki Petratos, Josh Cairelli and Jack Simmons were attacking the Shandong defensive line with probing runs.

Simmons took aim from outside the box only to see the ball fly just wide of the left post in the 18th minute.

Kent Harrison was causing headaches for the Shandong defence, but the Jets just couldn’t find the back of the net.

Then against the run of play the home side struck again, this time a break from a turnover saw keeper Tristan Esquilant beaten when coming off his line.

After the restart Simmons was fouled just metres outside the box after another exciting run.

Petratos stepped up to take the free kick and does what he does best.

He curled the ball up and over the wall, and into the top left corner of the goal – possibly goal of the tournament so far.

The boys were well and truly back in the contest and having more than their fair share of the ball.

But just like that, another mistake at the back and Shandong made them pay, taking the score to 4-1.

With half-time fast approaching the Jets continued to raid the Shandong goal and it finally paid off in the first minute of injury time, with Petratos striking again.

This time he took on three defenders before cutting back inside and hitting a sweetly timed left foot shot from the top of the 18-yard-box.

After the break the Jets looked to control the match, holding possession and attacking down both flanks.

First Jackson Frendo had his shot sail just over the crossbar, then Simmons had a shot well saved by the Shandong gloveman.

Riley Smith came on to replace Harrison in the 63rd minute and provided some energy up front.

The heat was again taking it’s toll and the Jets looked spent, but they kept probing forward, looking to break the home side’s defence.

Callum Gabriel, who had been busy at the back, ventured forward and got on the end of a crossed ball into the box, only to hit it straight to the keeper.

Another stirring run by Simmons who laid it off to Tipaldo, but his shot was well stopped by the keeper.

Injury time and the hosts put the final nail in the Jets coffin with their fifth goal – another turnover at the back.

A tough morning in tough conditions as the Jets await their next opponent in the play off stage of the tournament.