Jets alive in Finals Series race after 1-0 win over United
A first-half headed goal from Roy O'Donovan proved enough for Newcastle Jets to take all three points from their clash with Western United at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday night.
The result takes the Jets past United into seventh on the Hyundai A-League table on 31 points - just three points off both Perth Glory and Adelaide United - with just one game left for Carl Robinson's side to play.
United had a monopoly on the early chances of a first half played with intensity and quality, with Max Burgess and Connor Pain stinging the gloves of Lewis Italiano as an Alessandro Diamanti cross from a tight angle deflected off Nigel Boogaard and off the post.
The Jets then fired a warning shot at United when Bernie Ibini's header flew just wide of goal and minutes later they blew the door in, when O'Donovan beat Andrew Durante to a cross from Jason Hoffman, getting low to glance a header past Filip Kurto into the back of the net to hand the Jets the lead on the half-hour.
The visitors - in search of their fourth win on the bounce - moved quickly to restore parity and thought they found their equaliser when Besart Berisha converted a cross from Pain, but the Hyundai A-League's all-time leading scorer was rightly adjudged offside and the strike was chalked off.
An enthralling first-45 came to an end with the score at 1-0 but not before O'Donovan tried to bag his second of the night - as the clock ticked into added time the Irishman cut onto his left past Durante on the edge of the box and fired a shot on goal which fizzed past Kurto and glanced the post, going just wide of the mark.
Newcastle's aerial threat continued in the second half with Hoffman sending a bullet header over the bar minutes after the restart, before long-range curled attempts at either end to Jets substitute Abdiel Arroyo and United's Burgess travelled just wide of the mark.
A series of intense standoff's between Boogaard and Berisha highlighted the entertainment offered throughout the last half-hour of play, with a challenge from the Jets defender on the United striker raising calls for a penalty in the final minutes of the contest.
But nothing was to come from United's appeals as time ran out, with O'Donovan's first-half goal proving enough for the Jets to secure three points which keep their slim chances of finals football alive.
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Diamanti's deflected attempt saved by the post
United's high press forced a turnover out of the Jets which fell to Diamanti's feet in acres of space on the right flank.
The Italian drove toward goal, sized up the options bursting into the box and attempted to play the ball across goal but his cross deflected off Boogaard and angled toward goal; Italiano stood planted to the spot as the ball flew off his post and out for a corner.
O'Donovan gets low to head Jets in front
O'Donovan gained the ascendancy in his entertaining first-half battle with Durante when he beat the United defender to a dangerous Hoffman cross to hand his side a one-goal advantage.
Ibini found Hoffman in acres of space on the right flank after an interception from Angus Thurgate; the resulting cross looked as though it may have just been out of O'Donovans reach but he got down to the ball, beating Durante's boot to the ball and beating Kurto in goal with a header which nestled into the bottom corner.
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O'Donovan's almost reaps reward from ambitious attempt
O'Donovan took an optimistic route in search of a second goal and almost found it with a left-footed strike which beat Kurto, but couldn't beat the post.
The Irishman carved space for himself ahead of Durante by moving the ball onto his left and firing his shot toward the top right corner; Kurto leapt to his left but couldn't get his glove to the strike as it flew by and glanced the wrong side of the upright.
High-rising Hoffman misses the mark with bullet header
A penetrating cross from Koutroumbis found an unmarked Hoffman at the back post and the Jets full-back connected sweetly with his header on goal.
But his misguided attempt didn't trouble Kurto as it rose over his head and the bar and away for a goal kick - Hoffman appealed for a corner insisting his header was deflected but there was no such decision awarded to the Jets.
- Western United v Western Sydney Wanderers
When: Friday, August 7
Where: Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)
- Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix
When: Thursday, August 13
Where: Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)
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