Arnold upset as Jets win A-League derby
Star import Emile Heskey had a hand in both goals as Newcastle defeated Central Coast Mariners 2-1 in a pulsating F3 A-League derby at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
The Jets survived a thrilling finish after Patrick Zwaanswijk looked to have earned the Mariners a share of the points when he headed home in the sixth minute of stoppage time, only for the assistant referee to controversially rule him offside.
But while Mariners coach Graham Arnold was clearly disappointed to have the last-minute equaliser denied, he was more aghast at the awarding of a fourth-minute penalty to the home side after Heskey was felled by Michael McGlinchey in the box.
“I just thought it was a pretty average performance from the ref to be honest,” Arnold said.
“Mickey McGlinchey weighs 67 kilos and Emile Heskey weighs 100 kilos.
“My blood pressure has gone through the roof.
“I will probably be labelled a whinger but that’s the way it goes.”
Ryan Griffiths duly sent Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan the wrong way from the spot, with Heskey giving his side some breathing space on 61 minutes when he found the back of the net for the second straight game.
But it was James Virgili who deserved much of the credit after the youngster went past both Pedj Bojic and Zwaanswijk on a mazy run before setting up the ex-Liverpool front man for the easiest of finishes from close range.
“He (Virgili) is now going to get a lot of attention from other teams and it is something that he is going to have to get used to,” Newcastle coach Gary Van Egmond said.
“We put things in place and the boys carried it out, which was great.
“Emile was superb again today and he helped with the assist on the first goal as well as scoring the second. You can’t ask for much more from him.”
Bernie Ibini netted what turned out to be a consolation goal for the Mariners in the 72nd minute after he was on the end of a McGlinchey cutback after striker Daniel McBreen had won the initial header.
Jets keeper Mark Birighitti had no chance as Ibini tapped in from the edge of the six-yard box.
The match was a typically feisty local derby with a series of niggly fouls throughout, with referee Ben Williams issuing nine yellow cards.
Jets midfielder Ruben Zadkovich was lucky not to be given his marching orders after a cheap foul in the 52nd minute sparked a melee.
Players from both sides had to be separated as tempers threatened to boil over, with Williams doing well to contain the trouble.
The Jets moved up to second on the ladder ahead of Friday night’s home game against the rejuvenated Melbourne Victory, who are fresh off a 2-1 victory of their own against Adelaide United.
The Mariners will look to regroup when they travel south to take on Melbourne Heart on Sunday.© AAP 2013