The Newcastle Jets have pulled off their best win of the A-League Men season, a 3-0 away victory over surprise leaders Wellington Phoenix. Apostolos…
As a Newcastle Jets fan and 30-year resident of the Hunter Valley I’m accustomed to our team being touted as the wooden spooners, and comments on the current Jets squad such as “the roster on paper could be the worst in the league”.
I honestly don’t mind either opinion. The Newcastle public have become accustomed to it and many relish the perennial underdog role.
What’s really galling is when your team hardly rates a mention. As recent as last week one Aussie football site did a pre-season preview of how they believed teams would fare in this season’s A League.
Bizarrely both Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix did not rate a mention at all. The Newcastle Jets club did find their name on screen, only in regard to Daniel Penha signing for Western United.
I’m smiling due to the fact that all three ‘unmentionable’ clubs picked up points in Round One. Early days of course, but Wellington Phoenix defended admirably against many pundits pick for success the Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Sunday game over in the West had Perth Glory taking on the Newcastle Jets, as the last match of Round One.
Both teams had young and to a large extent untried/inexperienced players take the field. It was a disastrous start for Newcastle and one that will have had some fans fingers hovering over the TV remote considering an early exit.
New recruit and experienced Frenchman Jason Berthomier lost the ball in the Jets’ defensive third. Luka Ivanovic surged forward, his cross headed goal wards by Daniel Bennie. Jets gloveman could only parry the ball onto Berthomier, the ball ricocheting to the Glory’s (and former Jet) Adam Taggart. He has probably never scored an easier goal.
The Novocastrians did though slowly edge there way back into the game and on the quarter hour Kosta Grozos let rip with a rocket from 25 meters out. Ollie Sail’s flailing arm couldn’t stop the shot and although both teams had opportunities the score remained 1-1 at half-time.
The second half saw Jets keeper Ryan Scott earn his wages as he was easily the busier of the two shotstoppers. In the 64th minute though came the game’s biggest brain fade.
Centre back and club stalwart Jason Hoffman telegraphed a diagonal ball through his own box which was easily picked up by Taggart, quickly passed to Giordana Colli who played the ball into the path of Stephan Collakovski. Why Hoffman took this option is beyond me, particularly with a player of Taggart’s predatory ability lurking.
Perth Glory created more genuine goalscoring chances, but a combination of Scott’s goalkeeping, scrambling defence and maybe (for a change) a sprinkle of good luck the score was kept at 2-1 to Glory.
Substitute Daniel Stynes went close to scoring late with a long-range effort that was just flicked over the bar by Sail. With only ninety seconds of the three minutes of injury time left to be played Grozos’s free kick was headed over the arms of Glory’s advancing keeper and into the home team’s goal, by the returning Newcastle Jet Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.
A point on the road that new coach Rob Stanton was more than happy to receive.
The young cohorts in the Jets squad acquitted themselves well. Clayton Taylor caught the eye with some barnstorming runs with the ball at his feet, and will surely become a fan favourite in the weeks to come. Rising star Lucas Maurgais played well, already proving a handful for any opposition player he comes up against.
With both Rene Piscopo and Archie Goodwin to return in three or four weeks from injury it may not be the season that some naysayers are predicting.
So for all the negative comments that may come the Newcastle Jets way just don’t forget we are still here and we do deserve a mention, good, bad or indifferent.