Gold Coast moves to second

Gold Coast has reversed its hoodoo against Newcastle and put its title ambitions firmly back on track with a convincing 2-0 over the Jets at Skilled Park on Wednesday night.

Gold Coast has reversed its hoodoo against Newcastle and put its title ambitions firmly back on track with a convincing 2-0 over the Jets at Skilled Park on Wednesday night.

First-half goals from Jason Culina and debutant James Brown were enough to secure the points for the men in yellow whose goal was rarely threatened by the Jets.

Leap-frogging Melbourne into second place, Gold Coast's win puts it just two behind A-League table-topper Sydney (39 points) and sets up a blockbuster clash with the Sky Blues on Sunday.

A win over Vitezslav Lavicka's men will see United go to top spot for the first time since Round 11.

Looking to keep players fresh for Sunday's clash, Gold Coast made two changes to the starting line-up that drew 1-1 with Adelaide.

Joel Porter and Steve Fitzsimmons made way for new signing Dino Djulbic and in-form youth player Brown.

Newcastle, which has won five of its last six matches, made just one change to the side that downed Melbourne 3-2 on the weekend, Ali Abbas slotting in for suspended midfielder Ben Kantarovski.

With so much at stake for both sides the Jets sat back for the first 15 minutes and let the Gold Coast midfield control possession.

Newcastle custodian Neil Young nearly succumbed to the pressure after spilling Culina's cross into the area but luckily Matthew Thompson was on hand to clear.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley was the saviour for the Jets defence a short time later when he cleared Charlie Miller's chip over Young off the line, the Scot unlucky not to score after Shane Smeltz headed a neat ball into his path.

The Jets goalkeeper was in the thick of the action again, requiring treatment for a bloodied nose after Smeltz clattered into him as he rushed off his line to pick-up a through ball.

Gold Coast captain Culina finally undid the Newcastle defence in the 33rd minute when he slammed a free kick from the left across the area hoping for a deflection, to his delight no-one managed a touch and Young was left stranded as the ball flew past him and into the net.

Five minutes later Branko Culina's side was left cursing again as Gold Coast doubled its lead through local youth product Brown.

Making his first start of the season for United, Brown initiated a great one-two with Culina at the top of the box.

Brown's speed paid dividends as he latched onto Culina's return, curling a right-foot effort past Young's left and into the top of the net.

The half-time whistle couldn't come soon enough for the Jets who trudged off for the break.

Newcastle's decision to soak up early pressure proving fruitless as the side failed to test Gold Coast's goal with any real intent.

Emerging from the tunnel, both sides made changes for the second half, Gold Coast replacing Miller with Porter and after picking up a knock early in the first half, Young was replaced by back-up keeper Ben Kennedy.

Striker Sasho Petrovski was also brought into the mix as Newcastle looked to find something upfront, Michael Bridges the man who made way.

Jobe Wheelhouse had the Jets' first real chance 10 minutes in, his header went wide after finding Song Jin Hyung's free-kick from the right.

Just before the hour mark Smeltz had a great chance to put the Gold Coast three in front, but the Kiwi international blazed over an empty net after running onto Anderson's clearance holding off Topor-Stanley and rounding Kennedy.

With Gold Coast controlling the majority of second-half possession, Newcastle's best chance of the night fell to Thompson in the 82nd minute when United goalkeeper Jess Van Strattan spilled a cross in the area.

After a scramble, defender Djulbic managed to save twice on the line, firstly from Topor-Stanley and then miraculously getting a foot to Thompson's effort.

As the final whistle drew near United had the last chance of the night deep into stoppage time, Porter heading over the bar after Smeltz drew Kennedy off his line and chipped neatly to the penalty spot.

After the match Miron Blieberg was pleased with the team's effort pointing to the positive fact that his side was able to win without star striker Shane Smeltz making a contribution.

"It's a positive clean sheet but some people say it's positive that we can prove that we can win without Smeltz scoring," he said.

"It was positive that we shared the load exactly like I wanted to, and we don't have any injuries."

"I think after today we proved that it's a three horse race and we are a force to be reckoned with."

Newcastle coach Branko Culina admitted his players looked tired but took nothing away from Gold Coast's performance believing it was the better side on the night.

"We can criticise our performance but lets not take anything away from the opposition they were very good on the night, in that first period really they were the better team," Culina said.

"It was a difficult game against a quality opponent, I think we were still in the game until we gave away the two silly goals."

"The first should have been defended better, we should have given the free kick away in the first place and the second goal was a give-away."

"They were afraid of us you could see that, we just weren't good enough to take advantage of that. We tried to play a more attacking game than they did but they were the better team."

Gold Coast United 2 (Culina 34, Brown 38) Newcastle Jets 0 Crowd: 4853 @ Skilled Park