Jets pinch a point

Labinot Haliti marked his return to Newcastle in spectacular fashion, scoring a late equaliser as Newcastle scrambled a 1-1 draw against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.




Labinot Haliti marked his return to Newcastle in spectacular fashion, scoring a late equaliser as Newcastle scrambled a 1-1 draw against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

Archie Thompson looked as if he had done enough for the Victory when he scored his third goal in as many games to give Melbourne the lead in the 42nd minute, and the home side looked well and truly in charge of the match until very late on.

Haliti, coming on as second-half substitute, was beautifully set-up by a cross from Tarek Elrich, and headed home from close range to stun the home side and take a share of the spoils for the hard-working Jets.

Melbourne, left to lament its inability to secure a second goal, has now managed a win and two draws from its first five games as its title defence continued to splutter, while the Jets, who had beaten Gold coast 1-0 just four days prior, snatched a vital point to move to eight from five games.

It was a disastrous start to the game for Melbourne, with Billy Celeski crashing to the turf after falling awkwardly in just the third minute. The injury to his knee looked serious and it cast a pall over the match for much of the first half.

There could have been further trouble for the home side, with Rody Vargas cleaned up by his own keeper Glen Moss, forcing the skipper to seek medical treatment for a cut to the head. Vargas returned to spurn Melbourne's best chance of the first 30 minutes after he headed a Tom Pondeljak cross wide, while Ney Fabiano and Nick Ward also mis-fired.

The Jets were producing little in attack and it was not surprising when a more enterprising Melbourne side went ahead on 42 minutes.

Leigh Broxham took a free kick from the right, and Thompson managed to wriggle free from the attentions of his namesake, Matt, to rise at the near post. It was a perfectly placed header which Ben Kennedy had no hope of stopping.

Melbourne pressed hard in the first 15 minutes after the break, with Ljubo Milicevic forced into action to block a dangerous Ney Fabiano cross before Thompson fired wide and high with a good chance

Chris Triantis did a similar thing up the other end, while just after the hour Jason Hoffmann was on the end of the best Jets build-up for the night but fired straight at Moss. Donny De Groot and Haliti came on to help spark the Jets, with the Dutchman immediately in action, getting his header on target but not past Moss.

Melbourne's best chance for a second goal ended when Ney Fabiano, under pressure from Nikolai Topor-Stanley, fell over the box, but Chris Beath waved play on.

It was Elrich's endeavour in the 86th minute which then secured the Jets a share of the spoils as he powered down the right and looped the ball to Haliti, who beat Adrian Leijer in the air, then Moss with the header.

Melbourne's hopes of snatching the three points back slipped agonisingly away as Vargas' late shot beat Kennedy but went just wide.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Thompson 42) Newcastle Jets 1 (Haliti 86) Crowd: 15,168 at Etihad Stadium