Valiant Jets go down to late derby winner
Despite the brave efforts of the Jets players, a late winner by Patricio Perez has handed a 1-0 win to the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.
After holding out against the second-placed Central Coast Mariners for 90 minutes, the Newcastle Jets have gone down 1-0 at Bluetongue Stadium, eventually succumbing to a Patricio Perez winner.
The Argentinian midfielder finished off a sweeping move initiated by substitute Mustafa Amini and left-back Josh Rose, as the Mariners head into the finals series having lost just once in their last 16 outings.
The game was played in driving rain, testing the footing of both sides throughout the contest, and despite the valiant efforts of the Jets players a goal eluded their grasp, drawing to a close the club's final Hyundai A-League 2010/11 appearance.
Branko Culina was able to welcome back Adam D'Apuzzo (ankle) and Taylor Regan (hamstring) from injury for the F3 Derby, with the former being deployed in a central midfield role while youngster Mario Simic made his third successive start at left-back.
The opening exchanges arguably lacked a little of the intensity and tempo that many associate with local derbies, perhaps attributed to the conditions as well as the afternoon's earlier result when Wellington Phoenix overcame North Queensland Fury to seal the sixth and last finals berth.
Playmaker Perez certainly had the best chances of the first-half for the Mariners, but lacked the killer touch required in front of goal to break the deadlock early on.
As a precursor to what was to come, Rose gifted two clear-cut opportunities for the diminutive number 10 in the closing stages of the first-half, while Ben Kennedy produced an excellent save down low against Perez after 21 minutes.
Meanwhile, Tarek Elrich and Ryan Griffiths were causing the Mariners trouble down the right flank as defender Rose continued to bomb forward for the home side. Unfortunately for the dynamic duo, the breakthrough would have to wait until the second period.
And it was the visitors who would look the more likely of the two sides for the majority of the second 45, as Elrich and Ali Abbas hit thunderous shots from distance just after the resumption of play.
Indeed, it appeared that it was only a matter of time before Newcastle would open their account, and substitute Marko Jesic hit what looked to be the decisive strike just after the hour mark. The 21-year-old's fierce left-footed shot from 20-yards got the best out of Ryan, who made a spectacular diving save to his right to keep the scores level.
Culina sensed the momentum had shifted to his side and threw super-sub Sasho Petrovski into the mix in search of a late winner.
But the Mariners would be the team to land the knockout blow when Amini played the ever-dangerous Rose in behind the Jets' defence as the full-time whistle beckoned. A calm square ball across the face of goal followed, and Perez had the simplest of tap-ins to collect all three points for the home side.
The loss ends the Jets' current campaign on 35 competition points in seventh place on the Hyundai A-League ladder, but with much to look forward to ahead of what is sure to be an exciting 2011/12 season.
Match Details: Central Coast Mariners: 20. Matt RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN (22. Mustafa AMINI 78'), 3. Josh ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (16. Trent SAINSBURY 90+3'), 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 24. Bernie IBINI-ISEI (23. Adam KWASNIK 61')
Unused Substitutes: 30. Paul HENDERSON
Yellow Cards: John Hutchinson 61'
Red Cards: Nil
Newcastle Jets: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 3. Adam D'APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Labinot HALITI (13. Sasho PETROVSKI 70'), 16. Jeremy BROCKIE (18. Marko JESIC 61'), 19. Ali ABBAS (31. Jacob PEPPER 81'), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS, 28. Mario SIMIC
Unused Substitutes: 40. Matt NASH (gk)
Yellow Cards: Adam D'Apuzzo 25', Mario Simic 71', Jacob Pepper 90+2'
Red Cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners: 1 (Perez 90') Newcastle Jets: 0