The Foxtel National Youth League title hopes of the Newcastle Jets Youth team were dealt a severe blow after falling to a 2-1 defeat against Western Sydney Wanderers Youth in Sydney’s west on Saturday.
In a pulsating encounter, the Jets took the lead against the run of play before two second half goals from Wanderers substitute Lachlan Scott secured the win for the red and black to leave Newcastle with a mountain to climb if they are to qualify for the Foxtel National Youth League Grand Final as Conference B winners.
Despite Wanderers holding the majority of possession in the opening exchanges, it was the Jets who fired the first warning shot as speedsters Cody Carroll and Andy Brennan combined on a swift counter attack, before the Western Sydney defence diffused the danger.
With only five minutes on the clock, the home side almost hit the front after Mario Shabow saw his header rebound off the crossbar after a scramble in the penalty area.
Within a minute the hosts were behind. Josh Barresi picked up the ball in midfield and quickly released Finn Parris behind the defence to go one-on-one with the keeper. Despite the last defender quickly gaining ground, the young winger kept his cool and slid the ball under the onrushing Matt Symes to put the title hopefuls ahead.
That didn’t deter the Wanderers as they were nearly level two minutes later. Left-back Alusine Fofanah made a storming run into the area and struck a venomous drive against the left upright and out.
The action continued to go from end to end, and on 12 minute, Brennan got in behind the Wanderers defence and fired a low cross in, but the chance went begging as there were no white shirts positioned for a simple tap in on the six-yard box.
The frenetic start to the match continued in the 23rd minute as Wanderers number nine Kyle Cimenti forced Jets keeper Bon Scott into a superb diving save.
Newcastle returned fire two minutes later when Ben Hay crossed from the right for Adam Cawley who forced Symes into the save of the match.
From there, the match eventually settled into a rhythm with the Wanderers seeing most of the ball.
Shortly before half time, Jets midfielder Andrew Pawiak beat the fullback with some fancy footwork and fizzed in a curling cross from the right flank which somehow evaded all of the Newcastle attackers.
Despite being under heavy pressure from that point to the break, the Jets’ structure and discipline in defence held strong to ensure they went into the interval 1-0 up, when perhaps 4-4 may have been a more fitting scoreline.
Both coaches chose to make changes at the break, with the key change being the introduction of eventual match-winner Lachlan Scott. Three minutes after half time, Scott brought the Wanderers level after a goalmouth scramble which saw Cimenti hit the crossbar before the ball fell to the substitute attacker who fired in from close range off the post.
The goal proved to be the turning point in the match, as the Wanderers wrestled momentum of the game after pulling themselves back on level terms. In the 55th minute, Josh Macdonald fired in a low free kick from the right which amazingly missed everybody, when it seemed only a faint touch was required to divert the ball into the net.
However - cometh the hour, cometh the man. With half an hour to play, Scott picked up the ball in a central position before curling a long-range effort in at the far post past his namesake in the Newcastle goal.
From there, it seemed only a matter of time before the Wanderers turned their possession and territory into a third goal. Jets keeper Scott ensured this wouldn’t happen with fine saves in the 65th and 81st minutes from long-range rasping drives by Macdonald and substitute Tariq Maia respectively.
The Jets seemed to hang in and pick themselves up to give the Wanderers a few late scares. With time ticking away as the Jets pushed everybody forward in search of an equaliser, fullback Hay got in behind the defence a number of times and sent inviting cross after cross through the defence, which Newcastle were not able to capitalise on.
The final chance came deep into time added on, when Newcastle captain Pawiak went on a slalom run past the red and black shirts before threading a delicate ball through for Kristian Brymora who, despite a lunging effort, just saw the ball snatched away off his bootlaces by Symes, before the final whistle brought an end to a highly entertaining clash.
Despite the victory, Sydney FC’s 5-3 win against the Mariners 24 hours later means that Western Sydney are out of Grand Final contention. Newcastle remain in contention, however must defeat Sydney FC at Wanderers Oval this weekend if they are to take the race for top spot down to the final day in a fortnight’s time.
Western Sydney Wanderers Youth 2 (Scott 48’, 60’)
Newcastle Jets Youth 1 (Parris 6’)
Popondetta Park, Emerton, Western Sydney
Newcastle Jets Youth: 1. Bon Scott (Gk), 2. Ben Hay, 4. Thomas Whiteside, 5. Caio De Godoy (12. Rhyan Smith 52’), 6. Josh Barresi (3. Ryan Ensor 75’), 7. Finn Parris, 8. Andrew Pawiak (C), 9. Andy Brennan (14. Kristian Brymora 46’), 10. Cody Carroll, 11. Adam Cawley, 15. Themba Muata-Marlow
Unused Substitute: 20. Blake Tuxford (Gk)
Yellow Cards: Hay 41’
Red Cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Matt Symes (Gk), 3. Shayne D’Cunha, 4. Daniel Alessi (C), 5. Alusine Fofanah, 6. Liam Youlley, 7. Joshua Macdonald, 8. Kearyn Baccus (14. Lachlan Scott 46’), 9. Kyle Cimenti (2. Shannon Cole 62’), 10. Cameron Devlin, 11. Mario Shabow (13. Tariq Maia 46’) 12. Keanu Baccus
Unused Substitute: 20. Nicholas Suman (Gk)
Yellow Cards: Devlin 57’, Cole 69’, Youlley 90+3’
Red Cards: Nil