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It was a fantastic turnaround from the Newcastle Jets, who had conceded ten goals in their past three games.
It was world-class attacking football from the Jets, and the Mariners has hit rock bottom. The fans were waiting for the old Newcastle Jets, but they got a new Newcastle, only more clinical and they wanted the victory more.
Ernie Merrick has turned everything around in their past three matches. For the Mariners, they have had their worst 90 minutes of the entire A-League season. They thoroughly deserved the wooden spoon they received and their defence was poor.
It only took ten minutes for the opening goal, and it was set up for Riley McGree who had a fantastic game. The Australian U23 winger Joseph Champness burst into the box, controlled it and poked it past the former Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Ben Kennedy.
Roy O’Donovan only had to wait another few minutes to end his goalscoring drought since Round 5, thanks to a fantastic pass from Steven Ugarkovic. It was 2-0 after 20 minutes. The dream start.
It only got better for the Jets as the opening goalscorer (who was assisted by Riley McGree) assisted McGree, who took a touch and bent a shot past Kennedy. The former Newcastle goalkeeper wasn’t having the ideal opening 24 minutes.
Central Coast managed to get into the match after that, with Connor Pain hitting the post and eventually scoring one back, set up by Andrew Hoole and a Jack Duncan who dived too early. The Mariners looked to have had a glimmer of hope before the second half, only two goals behind their bitter rivals.
According to the A-League, the Mariners have taken only one point from a possible 36 when conceding the first goal of the game this season. And we saw why in the second half.
Youngster McGree, who was the heart of the Jets’ attacking play, intercepted the ball, took on the defence and his shot beat Kennedy. Kennedy should have saved it, but it was game over for the Mariners and joy for McGree and the Jets. It didn’t end there, but that was fantastic.
Around 5-10 minutes later, Dimitri Petratos whipped a wicked corner in and the centre-half substitute, Lachlan Jackson, was unmarked at the far post. It was Newcastle Jets’ fifth of the night. The goals were flying in the derby, and it didn’t end yet.
Champness was fouled in the area by Central Coast’s sliding right fullback Jake McGing. O’Donovan bagged his brace from the penalty spot, and it was well deserved. He had a goal or two chalked off, but he had a brace.
McGree managed to complete his hat-trick after the Argentinian substitute Patito Rodriguez produced some nifty skill moves but had his shot blocked. McGree scored in a similar position to his second goal, but he put this one much closer to the far post.
Central Coast had a late consolidation after Andrew Hoole had his second assist of a poor night for his team. He put a cross in, and Trent Buhagiar volleyed it home. 2-7.
One minute later, Petratos, who felt a little left out, joined the party after Rodriguez assisted for the second time of the night. Petratos, inside the box, placed it through a few Central Coast shirts, and Kennedy was beaten. 2-8.
Central Coast didn’t even look up to NPL standard tonight. Newcastle’s attacking was exquisite and better than the Socceroos’ attacking standard on a good day. The match has broken a few records including the equal most amount of goals in a match by one team (8) and the most total goals in a game (10).
All is forgiven for Newcastle’s horrid run, and well done to Riley McGree with a hat-trick, Patito Rodriguez who added two assists off the bench and Roy O’Donovan who ended his goalscoring drought. All the teams playing finals won’t underestimate the Jets, who saved their best performance for last.