Fitzgerald: Newcastle eyeing finals after shock win over Sydney FC
Their destiny is out of their control but Nick Fitzgerald says the Newcastle Jets won’t give up their Hyundai A-League Finals Series hopes after beating competition favourites Sydney FC on Tuesday night.
Before kick-off in Kogarah most expected the night would end with the Sky Blues getting the result they needed to clinch a record fourth Hyundai A-League Premiership.
But the Jets ripped up the script, coming from a goal down at half-time to register a vital – and thoroughly deserved – 2-1 victory.
Fitzgerald played a big role in the win, scoring a spectacular equaliser just after half-time before Kosta Petratos scored the match-winner in the final minute.
The upset win continues the Jets’ late-season resurgence under new boss Carl Robinson, winning five of their last six matches to sit eighth and just three points outside the top six.
SHOCK RESULT: Jets’ comeback spoils Sydney FC’s Premiership party
The Hunter club will need to win all of their last three matches – against the Mariners, Western United and Wellington Phoenix - and hope for other results to go their way to sneak into the finals.
But if they do get there Fitzgerald believes they can give the competition a shake.
We’ve come against the best team (Sydney FC) in the competition by quite a mile…[and] got a result tonight,” he told Fox Sports.
“You never know with us. We just have to hope we can get in the finals and then with momentum you never know.
“We’ve just beaten Sydney and before that we beat Melbourne City who are coming second. You never know what can happen in finals.”
By his own admission, Fitzgerald “didn’t have his best game” against the Sky Blues but provided a route back into the match with his jaw-dropping strike.
VICTORY BLOW: Injury ends Kruse's season early
It was a just reward for Newcastle’s endeavour, having created the bulk of the chances in the match and also showing excellent fitness and tempo against the defending champions.
“The boys have done really well (during the break), they’ve trained every day and all kept fit,” Fitzgerald said.
“It’s no coincidence we’ve come back sharp and we’ve come back on the same page as well.
“I thought our football was really good considering we hadn’t played a game leading up to it.”
It was a sentiment echoed by match-winner Petratos, who chose the perfect time to score his maiden Hyundai A-League goal.
SIGNING NEWS: Kurto commits to Western United FC
The 22-year-old, the younger brother of Socceroo and fellow Jet Dimitri Petratos, said a simple game-plan was the key behind the club’s late-season revival.
“We kept to our structure…the coach has been working on that since he got back and it paid off in the end,” he said.
“He’s [Robinson] making it very clear what everyone’s job is and everyone knows what they have to do.”
Petratos added on his goal: “It felt amazing.
“The coach said get on and make the difference and I actually did.”
The Jets have a quick turnaround before their next match, taking on F3 rivals Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Friday night.