Newcastle and Central Coast have both missed the opportunity to kick-start their A-League campaigns, playing out a gritty 1-1 draw at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A scratchy first half made way for a lively second as Edson Montano put the Jets ahead in the 48th minute before Richard Vernes scored his maiden Mariners goal seven minutes later.
Both sides hit the woodwork in the second half and had their opportunities to pinch victory but had to settle for a point, which doesn’t really help either team.
WHAT THEY SAID
“It was a tough game, derbies always are, both teams fought til the end and both teams will be happy with a point. It’s always a tough place to come and play, Newcastle always put on a good show here. We were wanting the three points today after last week’s performance we wanted to show our fans a bit more grit and determination and I think we did that.” – Mariners defender Zac Anderson
“It’s very disappointing. We’ve been in a number of the games here, we’ve taken the lead and conceded very quickly after and same again today. We just couldn’t go on with it. It’s a place where we need to make it tough to come and every team has pinched some points off us. It’s not good enough.” – Jets midfielder Billy Celeski
1-0 Montano (48’) – David Carney sliced between three defenders before attempting a clever reverse pass in behind the defence. Despite a couple of touches off Mariners defenders the ball luckily found its way through to Montano, who held off Jacob Pocoliero to fire it home.
1-1 Vernes (55’) – Mariners fullback Michael Neill retrieved the ball on the left flank, making a metre of space before firing in a low cross to the near post wear Vernes worked in front of his marker to divert it into the net with a simple tap-in.
Jets ‘keeper Ben Kennedy didn’t have much to do throughout the 90 minutes but came up with a vital save at the death. Matt Sim produced a clever turn in the box to get a clear sight of goal, unleashing a powerful strike which Kennedy managed to tip around the post. It was a vital stop which won his side a precious point in the end.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Mariners again fired a blank in front of goal in the opening 45 minutes for the seventh time out of eight matches this season. The only first-half goal they have managed came in round two against Wellington, an own goal by Tom Doyle. The result means the Jets are winless after eight games, their worst-ever start to an A-League season.
Carney had been fairly well-shackled by Mariners left-back Neill in the first half but showed his quality – and experience on his 31st birthday – to set up the Jets’ opener. Cutting in from the right, Carney produced a run of great close control and then the awareness to find the perfect pass for Montano to pounce. After a lacklustre opening 45 minutes, it was just what was needed to light up the contest.
Glen Trifiro’s corner to the back post found the head of Josh Rose who somehow headed over the crossbar from just a couple of yards out. In a game of few chances, it was an opportunity that simply shouldn’t have been squandered. As Fox commentator Simon Hill said, it was ‘a real defender’s finish’.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
The Mariners went with a diamond in midfield and while it meant they often controlled the middle of the park, it left them with very little width if full-backs Jacob Poscoliero or Michael Neill couldn’t get forward. It meant they struggled to really create too many decent opportunities, especially in the first half.
THE FINAL WORD
Newcastle will look to build on another encouraging display when they host Wellington Phoenix next Saturday night. The Mariners are also at home – albeit at a new venue in North Sydney Oval – taking on unbeaten Melbourne Victory on Friday night.
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy, Neville, Jaliens, Madaschi, Gallaway, Celeski, Welsh (Griffiths 74’), Carney, Flores (Caravella 82’), Jeronimo (Hoole 66’), Montano
Central Coast Mariners: Reddy, Poscoliero, Anderson, Rose, Neill, Hutchinson, Trifiro, Vernes (Sim 77’), Caceres (Cernak 85’), Duke (Bingham 75’), Fitzgerald
Scorers: Montano 48’, Vernes 55’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Gallaway 52’, Madaschi 65’, Jeronimo 66’, Jaliens 90+2’
Conditions: 26C, Dry
Attendance: 11,031 @Hunter Stadium