Clinical Newcastle too strong for rudderless Reds
Newcastle Jets have extended their unbeaten run to six games after clinically dispatching Adelaide United 3-0 on Sunday evening.
The Jets struck all three goals either side of half-time in a 13-minute blitz at Coopers Stadium to consign the free-falling Reds to their fourth straight defeat.
Roy O'Donovan struck in the closing stages of a tight first-half before Matthew Millar and Steven Ugarkovic wrapped up the points shortly after the restart to secure the Jets just their second away win of the campaign.
The result continues a remarkable turnaround for the Hunter club under Carl Robinson as they move past Melbourne Victory into ninth position on the Hyundai A-League table and become only the second team to keep a clean sheet against the Reds this season.
Despite their form woes, the seventh-placed Reds only remain outside the top six on goal difference in seventh position but could fall further off the pace in the hunt for Finals football with a bye in the next round.
Mauk flashes one across the face
The Reds were largely on the front foot early but suffered for scoring chances by erratic delivery in the final third early on.
The opening quarter hour's sole strike of note was a less than convincing free-kick from James Troisi, but the Reds soon fashioned a clear-cut chance from open play as Troisi, on the back of more considered build-up, fed the run of Stefan Mauk into the box but he was unable to steer his shot on target from a difficult angle.
Opportunities few and far between
The Reds continued to promise plenty but deliver little in the attacking third as the half wore-on, while the Jets looked to find their opportunities in transition.
As the contest neared the final five minutes of the half there was little brewing for either side until the 39th minute when George Blackwood spurned a chance to deliver his side the opener by pushing his shot wide after Nikola Mileusnic teed him up from Mauk's cross.
O'Donovan takes his chance before the break
The Jets found few scoring chances throughout the opening half but they showed up their hosts by taking their chance when it counted prior to half time.
After seeing an effort earlier in the half deflect wide, it was striker's instincts of Roy O'Donovan that came to the fore as he saw his central run picked out by a inch-perfect delivery from Dimi Petratos from wide on the right.
From there, the Irishman simply couldn't miss from point blank range and has now scored in three consecutive matches for the Jets and nine for the season all told.
Millar doubles the Jets' lead shortly after the restart
After a tight first-half the next goal was going to prove crucial and again it was the visitors that again proved most clinical early in the second half.
The Reds out-of-sorts back line were again found wanting as Nigel Boogaard lobbed the ball forward from his own half for the fleet-footed Matthew Millar, who made no mistake in the ensuing one-on-one with Paul Izzo.
Jets strike again in quick-time through Ugarkovic
Just minutes later and the Jets put the contest to bed as Steven Ugarkovic thumped home a strong headed finish for his third goal of the campaign.
The finish aside, it was the build-up from Burns that drew the plaudits though as he showed a clean set of heels to beat James Troisi to a lob down the right flank and somehow squeezed in an inch-perfect delivery despite going to ground under heavy pressure from his opposing man.
Substitutes bring some spark for the Reds
Adelaide needed answers quick and Gertjan Verbeek turned to his youthful bench as he added Mohamed Toure, Michaël Maria and Kusini Yengi in a triple change just after the hour.
It very nearly did the trick too as the Reds sparked back in to life inside a couple of minutes with their best chance of the contest - Toure flying down the right before putting a squaring ball that just eluded Yengi on the slide just yards out from goal.
Jets settle it down and see it out
Content with their three goal buffer, the Jets quickly sought to counter the hosts' newly emerged threat as chances dried up for the remainder of the contest.
Carl Robinson introduced Welsh international Joe Ledley for his Hyundai A-League debut, but it was the usual suspects that threatened in the closing stages.
Matthew Millar saw his 70th minute toe poke deflect wide, but it was Dimi Petratos that had the best sight on goal in the 87th minute as he fired a shot straight at Izzo.
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix
Sunday, 22 March
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 4pm AEDT
- Adelaide United have a bye