New signing Lee Ki-Je has netted a stoppage-time penalty to earn Newcastle Jets a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
Wanderers looked like they would take all three points when Brendon Santalab gave them the lead from the penalty spot four minutes from the end after Daniel Mullen handled in the area.
But the Jets weren’t to be denied, winning a spot kick of their own two minutes into stoppage time after Radovan Pavicevic’s volley struck the arm of Antony Golec.
Ki-Je kept his nerve to score and ensure the Jets remain one-point ahead of the Wanderers, who are rooted to the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
0-1 Santalab (86’) – Jets defender – and Ex Wanderers man – Daniel Mullen was adjudged to have handled in the penalty by referee Lucien Laverdure when his attempted clearance flicked up and struck his arm. Santalab showed great confidence to do a ‘panenka’ from the spot, gently chipping the ball down the middle of Ben Kennedy’s goal.
1-1 Ki-Je (92’) – With the Jets piling forward looking for an equalizer, substitute Radovan Pavicevic pounced on a loose ball and volleyed towards goal with the ball striking the arm of Wanderers defender Antony Golec. Pavicevic followed up and swept the ball home but Laverdure had already pointed to the spot, leaving it to the Korean to hold his nerve, sending Covic the wrong way for the equalizer.
The Wanderers thought they had stolen all three points seven minutes from time when skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley turned the ball home from close range after the Jets failed to clear a corner. But Laverdure ruled it out for an apparent foul by Nick Kalmar and Jets goal-keeper Ben Kennedy.
While they took the lead soon after anyway, the visitors will feel they should have already been 1-0 at that stage and it became a huge call when the Jets responded at the death.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
We weren’t expecting a classic between the league’s bottom two sides but just two shots on target told the story of a rather tepid first half, the first not coming until the 37th minute.
It was the eighth game in a row the Jets had failed to come up with a first half goal and it took 55 minutes for them to test Wanderers gloveman Ante Covic. While they will be disappointed not to have got all three points, the result snaps the Wanderers eight game losing streak on the road.
Santalab’s panenka penalty was superb but his celebration was even better. The Wanderers striker went and collected a phone off one of the photographers behind the goal before heading to the corner and taking a snap of the away fans – a truly unique celebration.
Jets ‘keeper Kennedy almost added a moment to a bloopers reel when he took too long to clear a ball, allowing Tomi Juric to close him down and block his attempted clearance up field.
Juric regained possession near the byline on the byline before turning and cutting it back into the middle where Matthew Spiranovic was waiting but the Socceroos defender scuffed his shot wide from just 10 metres out.
It was a huge let-off for the home side and spared Kennedy the wrath of coach Phil Stubbins.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Wanderers boss Tony Popovic persisted with using the left-footed Nikita Rukavytsya down the right flank and the Socceroo attacker didn’t look comfortable.
Not only did Rukavytsya rarely get in behind the back four but he also never got the opportunity to run back inside onto his left foot and get a shot in.
If the Wanderers are to get the best out of Rukavytsya, it might be a better option to play him in his preferred left-wing role permanently.
He was switched to the left after an hour and immediately looked a threat, almost scoring when he went around Kennedy but couldn’t get a shot on target from a tight angle.
THE FINAL WORD
Both sides will try and get just their second wins of the season on the road next weekend, with the Jets travelling across the ditch to play the Wellington Phoenix, while the Wanderers also face a tough road trip at Coopers Stadium against Adelaide United.
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy, Cowburn, Mullen, Regan, Gallagher, Kantarovski (Crowley 88’), Pepper (Cooper 77’), Ki-je, Caravella, Hoole (Pavicevic 75’), Montano
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Covic, Tanaka, Hamill, Topor-Stanley, Golec, Spiranovic, Poljak, Takahagi (Kalmar 63’), Rukavytsya, Haliti (Cole 58’), Juric (Santalab 77’)
Scorers: Santalab 86’, Ki-Je 90+2’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Regan 54’, Tanaka 67’, Golec 78’, Mullen 90’
Conditions: 28C, Drycomments