Newcastle Jets have broken their Gosford hoodoo holding on for a vital 1-0 win over Central Coast on Sunday to remain in the hunt for the Hyundai A-League finals.
A second half goal to midfielder Steven Ugarkovic – his first in the A-League – was enough for the Jets to register their first win on the Coast in more than eight years.
The result stretches the club’s unbeaten run to four games and they are now just four points outside the top six with six games to go.
The Mariners wore a special surf lifesaving kit for the match but were unable to stop themselves from sinking to a 15th loss from 21 games this season.
0-1 Ugarkovic (57’) – Morten Nordstrand’s through-ball looked like it would be cut out by Josh Rose but the defender inexplicably missed it, gifting Ugarkovic a one-on-one chance which the midfielder easily dispatched past Paul Izzo.
Not long after going ahead, the Jets looked to be in trouble when the pacy Mitch Austin broke clear near halfway and burst towards Mark Birighitti’s goal. He got inside the box and just as it looked like the winger was about to get a strike at goal, defender Nick Cowburn slid in with a perfectly timed tackle to snuff out the danger. It was a big play for the visitors and one which ensured they would hold on for a precious three points.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
-The Mariners set a new A-League record, now at 23 consecutive games without keeping a clean sheet.
-Newcastle’s win was just their second ever in Gosford and the first since January 2008, more than eight years ago.
-It was also the Jets’ first win away from Hunter Stadium since round 4 this season.
Marquee imports Leonardo and Luis Garcia showed their undoubted quality and provided some real moments of quality to light up the F3 Derby.
Josh Rose was having a strong game in the heart of defence but his error to gift the Jets the opening goal was poor and it cost his side dearly in the end.
THE FINAL WORD
Not even Garcia’s return and a fresh playing strip could bring about a change of fortune for the Mariners. There were some bright moments but they are seriously lacking confidence and a cutting edge in the front third. It’s another home game next Sunday, with champions Melbourne Victory coming to Gosford.
The Jets weren’t at their best but found a way to get the result and will now really start to believe they could make a late burst for the finals. Next up is a real season-defining clash away to seventh-placed Perth Glory.
Central Coast Mariners: Izzo (gk), Ascroft, Uskok (McDonald 82’), J. Rose, Neill, Montgomery (c), L. Rose, Buhagiar (McGing 75’), Garcia (Heffernan 61’), Austin, Bingham
Newcastle Jets: Birighitti (gk), Hoffman, Mullen, Boogaard (c), Cowburn, Poljak, Ugarkovic, Leonardo (Kantarovski 90+3’), Alivodic, Nordstrand (Cooper 82’), Trifunovic
Scorers: Ugarkovic 57’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Mullen 45’, Poljak 51’, Uskok 78’, Montgomery 79’, McGing 90’
Conditions: 26C, FineAttendance: 7528 @ Central Coast Stadium