Robinson's Wanderers dig deep to defeat Jets in Newcastle
Western Sydney Wanderers survived a frenetic spell of late pressure from Newcastle Jets to secure a hard-earned 2-1 victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
The Red and Black opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to Ziggy Gordon and Tate Russell goals on either side of half-time, but a Nigel Boogaard header reduced that lead to one, setting up an entertaining finish to the tense affair which ultimately ended in favour of the visitors.
Valentino Yuel was presented with the first opportunity of the game but the Newcastle striker couldn't make it count; down the other end, however, Wanderers defender Gordon proved far more clinical when he leapt ahead of Yuel to head home the opener and silence an animated home crowd.
Carl Robinson's side then put the ball in the back of the net for a second time thanks to a magnificent long-range Nicolai Müller stunner, but VAR intervened to rule Simon Cox offside in the build-up to the strike, wiping the German's lethal attempt off the scoresheet.
What promised to be an exciting contest was living up to the hype early on and the Jets ensured they added to the drama; Yuel and Ramy Najjarine stood out as the star performers for the hosts as their electric energy produced a handful of chances for the hosts.
But Newcastle should have found themselves two goals behind at half-time. It seemed the Wanderers were certain to double their lead when Müller found Thomas Aquilina with a neat cross unmarked at the back post but the young full-back failed to make contact with the ball, ensuring their lead remained at just one goal at the break.
The second half began with the Red and Black on the front foot once more, and Aquilina's fellow flying full-back Tate Russell had no such issues in front of goal when he ventured forward to hammer the visitors two goals to the good.
Russell's thunderous strike and the ensuing pressure had the Jets scrambling to stay in the contest, but just when it seemed the Wanderers side would walk away with three points captain Nigel Boogaard ventured forward to head the Jets back into the contest.
A hefty spell of Newcastle pressure ensued as the hosts attempted to grind their way to a 2-2 draw but the Red and Black defence was not to be breached for a second time, as Robinson clinched his first win as Wanderers boss in Newcastle.
Thumping Gordon header gives Wanderers early lead
The Wanderers hoped to silence the home crowd early, and managed to do just that when Gordon ventured forward to head home a Troisi header, rising highest at the near post to divert the ball across goal into the opposite corner.
Troisi's cross was hit with speed and precision, just evading the head of Steven Ugarkovic to find Gordon streaming in ahead of the chasing Valentino Yuel to get to the ball first and score the opening goal.
Tight offside call denies Müller a beauty
The Wanderers took total control of the contest when Müller lashed home a brilliant goal to make it 2-0 midway through the first half - but their joy was short lived.
Cox, who made the initial run to get in behind Newcastle's defence, was adjudged marginally offside after VAR intervened to rule out the stunning goal and bring the Jets back into the contest.
O'Toole rocket keeps Margush on his toes
Connor O'Toole isn't known for his long-range shooting prowess, but his effort on goal following a marauding run forward suggested the defender may indeed have a wonder-goal in his locker.
The 23-year-old cracked an effort at Daniel Margush and the Wanderers 'keeper could barely handle the swerving attempt, spilling his initial save attempt which handed Yuel another chance, but the Jets striker couldn't take advantage of the rebound.
Aquilina wastes opportunity to double the lead
The Wanderers sliced their way behind Newcastle's defence with some sharp play between Cox and Müller, with the latter receiving the ball on the right side of the box.
Müller played a cross along the deck and Aquilina arrived at the back post ready to brush the ball home, but the 19-year-old got his feet tangled and failed to make contact, as the ball skimmed out from under his feet and away from danger.
Russell hammers the Red and Black two goals ahead
An error from Angus Thurgate in midfield sent Müller driving down the left flank, and his Wanderers teammates rushed forward in pursuit of a second goal.
Cox was first on the scene to support Müller's foray forward, receiving the ball on the turn and playing Russell into the box.
The 21-year-old bombed in on goal and unleashed a menacing first-time hit which made an emphatic sound as it rifled into the back of the net.
Boogaard makes it interesting with Jets goal out of the blue
The Jets seemed set to crumble under Red and Black pressure until a perfectly-weighted dead ball from Najjarine found Boogaard at the front post, who diverted a header Ziggy Gordon-style across goal into the back of the net.
Boogaard's well-timed header gave the Jets a boost late on, but the goal ultimately proved a consolation prize for the Jets captain.
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