Jets notch stunning F3 Derby win to leave Mariners at risk of top-six exit
Newcastle Jets have blown the race for top-six ascendancy wide open with a shock 2-0 F3 Derby win over Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Tuesday night.
The Mariners needed just one point from their derby clash with the bottom-placed Jets at Central Coast Stadium to seal their place in the Finals Series but a magnificent first-half showing from the Jets saw the bottom-placed side go two goals up at the break to set up the unlikely win.
Roy O'Donovan got the visitors ahead with a low, driven shot into the bottom-left corner before Lucas Mauragis put the finish on a swarming Jets team move six minutes later to silence the home crowd hoping to enjoy a Mariners celebration on the night.
As surprising as a Jets win at Central Coast Stadium was, the manner in which the result was clinched was relatively straightforward as Craig Deans' side took the lead and held it comfortably to the full-time whistle.
Alou Kuol came off the bench at half time as the hosts went in search of goals and despite the Mariners' majority share of possession the resolute Jets kept Jack Duncan well protected as the Mariners were unable to trouble the Newcastle 'keeper throughout the second half.
Failure to clinch the solitary point needed to seal Finals Series football in Gosford has left the Mariners in touching distance of Perth Glory in ninth, who have two games to make up the six-point gap between themselves and Alen Stajcic's side. Central Coast will be safe in the six if Perth fail to beat Brisbane Roar tomorrow night, otherwise the Mariners will need to take a point or more from their final game of the season against Western United.
Newcastle, meanwhile, moved to within just one point behind Melbourne Victory, and with a game in hand the Jets can finish the season in 11th spot by winning their two remaining games.
The two sides engaged in a breathtaking opening 45 minutes of football which produced a pair of Jets goals scored in quick succession to stun the home side heading into half time.
The Mariners started brightly, with Marco Ureña striking the body of Jack Duncan off a close-range shot dispatched from a tight angle and Matt Simon failing with an attempted lob from inside the centre circle, which the Jets 'keeper comfortably saved as the home side got on top in the opening quarter of an hour.
But just before the 30-minute mark, the visitors took the lead through a clinical O'Donovan finish. Jordan O'Doherty sent the Jets on an attacking move with a lofted ball aimed toward a Mariners defence which took on a different appearance on Tuesday night without Socceroo Ruon Tongyik alongside Kye Rowles.
Rowles did his best to clear the danger from O'Doherty's long ball but his header fell to Archie Goodwin. The young Jets forward controlled before feeding O'Doherty into the box, who left Mark Birighitti no chance of making the save with a bullet of a strike into the bottom-left corner.
Mauragis made it 2-0 six minutes later in some style, as the Jets showed hunger, aggression and skill to win the ball in midfield and turn that change in possession into a goalscoring opportunity.
O'Donovan nicked the initial ball off Matt Simon in midfield, which allowed Mauragis to slide in to feed the ball to Angus Thurgate on the turn. Thurgate drove toward goal while Mauragis peeled off to make his run to the back post.
He was met with a magnificent through pass slid perfectly into his path - the shot deflected off the outrushing Mark Birighitti and Daniel Hall flung himself toward the ball as it dropped over the line, but the stand-in Mariners defender could only help it on its way into the back of the net.
A smart Birighitti save off a Nigel Boogaard volley prevented the Jets adding a third from a corner situation. Daniel Bouman preceded to finish off an Ureńa cross in the 38th minute, but Simon was caught in an offside position when receiving the pass to feed Ureña out wide, and the deficit-halving goal was chalked off to leave the Mariners two goals down at half-time.
Stajcic brought Alou Kuol and Lewis Miller off his bench at half-time as the Mariners boss tried to find an answer to the bottom-placed Jets' superb opening 45, but with Simon withdrawn the home side lacked the presence up top to get reward for possession ascendancy.
Miller, who replaced Stefan Nigro at right-back for the Mariners, had the best of his side's chances by sending a pair of ambitious shots off target to leave the home side chasing a two-goal margin with 15 minutes to play.
But a rock-solid Jets defensive line, led by Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Lachlan Jackson kept the Mariners attack quiet to the final whistle. Kuol, who came on in search of goals, went largely unsighted and a frustrated Ureña failed to impact the scoresheet as the Jets eased to a relatively straightforward 2-0 win on the road.
Central Coast Mariners v Western United
Saturday, June 5 2021
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEST
Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory
Saturday, June 5 2021
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEST
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