Gutsy Jets too good

A 10-man Newcastle outfit has outlasted Melbourne Victory to register a gallant 3-2 win in their Round 22 Hyundai A-League clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday evening.

A 10-man Newcastle outfit has outlasted Melbourne Victory to register a gallant 3-2 win in their Round 22 Hyundai A-League clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday evening.

Newcastle took the lead via skipper Matt Thompson in the 26th minute before defender Ben Kantarovski picked up his second yellow card in the 33rd minute to leave the Jets a man down for the remainder of the game. The youngster's second offence allowed Melbourne to convert from the penalty spot to level the contest.

Newcastle snatched back the lead on the stroke of half-time through English import Michael Bridges and extended its lead when Labinot Haliti slotted home in the 56th minute.

Despite being a man down it was the home side who controlled the play up until the last 10 minutes when Melbourne attacked with purpose but could only pick up a consolation goal in injury time to Carlos Hernandez.

The win keeps Newcastle in the top four on the Hyundai A-League ladder while the Victory hold onto second place, just ahead of the Gold Coast, despite two losses in a row.

Newcastle coach Branko Culina was understandably thrilled with his side's valiant win against the defending A-League champions. "It was an outstanding performance from an outstanding team who has shown today if they really want something they can go out and get it,” he said after the match.

Meanwhile, Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick described his side's showing as 'flat'.

"Credit to Newcastle, after the second goal in particular we just weren't in the contest,” Merrick said.

"They were first to the ball and took their chances and even though we had the ball in the box and had more scoring chances we didn't even look like finishing.”

The game started in oppressive conditions with searing temperatures of 35 degrees on the pitch and it was the home side that had the first chance on goal.

Haliti brought down a cross from the right wing on the edge of the six-yard box. He tapped the ball back to Bridges who unleashed a vicious shot from 15 metres out that was tipped over the crossbar by Victory goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak.

From there it was the visitors who started to control the play and for the next 20 minutes they were camped in Newcastle's half but were unable to mount any decent challenge on goal.

Muscat and Kantarovski were shown yellow cards in the 19th and 22nd minute as both sides showed plenty of feeling in the clash but it was the Jets who took the lead just a short time later.

Defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley found Bridges on the edge of the area and he took advantage of Roddy Vargas's deep defending to play Matt Thompson into the box. The Newcastle skipper calmly took two touches before slotting the ball under Langerak for the opener.

Just a few moments later the Jets had another golden opportunity when a long-ball put Haliti behind the Melbourne defence. His first touch pushed him wide and Langerak was able to parry away his angled shot at the near post.

The game turned when Kantarovski picked up his second yellow card for holding back Robbie Kruse after he was put through with a good ball from the midfield. Referee Matthew Breeze awarded a penalty and as Kantarovski trudged off the park Muscat stepped up to slot home from the spot to make it 1-1 after 34 minutes.

Newcastle showed plenty of courage to regain the lead right on the stroke of half-time when Song and Elrich worked a play down the right wing. Elrich strode into space before lofting a cross into the box where Bridges timed his run into the box perfectly to get between Langerak and Adrian Leijer and forced the ball in from three yards out.

Both side made changes at half-time with striker Sean Rooney coming on for Bridges and Grant Brebner replacing Victory's Costa Rican debutant Marvin Angulo. And despite being a man down it was the Jets who stretched their lead in the 56th minute.

Vargas was again found to be playing too deep in the defensive line and Song took advantage by chipping a lovely ball over the top for Haliti who volleyed home a left-footed shot into the far corner. The Jets looked like adding another in the 65th when Rooney leapt high to meet Song's swinging free-kick but Langerak produced a good save to keep his side in the game.

Langerak was forced to produce another fine diving save to keep out Song's swerving free kick from 25 metres out while down the other end Jets custodian Neil Young did well to extinguish a rare raid by the Victory with Nick Ward's shot to the near post.

The Victory finally came to life in the final 10 minutes and snatched a late goal when Kruse played in Hernandez who slotted home from 15 metres out.

But it was too little too late as Newcastle held on to record their fifth victory from their last six starts to maintain their drive for the finals.

Newcastle Jets 3 (Thompson 26, Bridges 45, Haliti 56) Melbourne Victory 1 (Muscat 34p, Hernandez 90+2) Crowd 6,979 at EnergyAustralia Stadium