Reds finish with a win

The Newcastle Jets will enter the Hyundai A-League finals having lost their last four matches after being defeated 2-1 by Adelaide United at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday night.

The Newcastle Jets will enter the Hyundai A-League finals having lost their last four matches after being defeated 2-1 by Adelaide United at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday night.

Goals to Fabian Barbiero and Matthew Leckie won the match for the visitors who lifted themselves out of the wooden spoon position for the time being.

North Queensland has the opportunity to condemn the Reds back to the cellar when it entertains Gold Coast at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.

The Jets, however, look a long shot in the finals series starting next weekend, going into the playoffs a shadow of their mid-season selves.

The undermanned Hunter outfit minus the services of Nikolai Topor-Stanley (hip), Jobe Wheelhouse (hip), Song Jin-Hyung (hamstring), Sean Rooney (calf), Neil Young (nose) and Labinot Haliti (suspension) were second best for much of the opening stanza and it was justified that Aurelio Vidmar's men took the early advantage.

Indeed, the South Australians were the better team from the outset and with the chance to avoid the wooden spoon still a possibility, the Reds poured forward from Gerard Parsons opening whistle.

And just under 10 minutes in Adelaide landed the opening goal. With Barbiero marauding through the middle, the 25-year-old looked to play a ball wide to the right. His ball, however, took a deflection off Jet Jason Hoffman, and kindly returned to his reach. Sensing the opportunity, Barbiero struck a fierce first time shot with his right boot past Ben Kennedy to put the Reds ahead.

Three minutes later Barbiero could have had his second of the match - this time through good fortune rather than class. With the Newcastle defence attempting to clear their lines, the ball ricocheted into the midfielder with Kennedy reacting well to parry away for a corner.

And Adelaide could have extended its lead just shy of the 20-minute mark. With the Jets defence napping, Lucas Pantelis and Travis Dodd played a short free kick, catching the Newcastle backline unawares. Pantelis skewed his shot with Iain Fyfe just failing to connect when onrushing at the far post.

The match largely settled thereafter until Newcastle gained the ascendancy in the dying moments of the opening stanza, spurred on by an Ali Abbas moment of magic.

Scoring his first goal in the gold jersey of the Jets, Abbas took one touch following a Mirjan Pavlovic knock down before rifling a 20-yard cracker past Eugene Galekovic. Galekovic, to his credit, did manage a hand on Abbas' strike, but the ball had too much power behind it and the Iraqi internationals effort got what it deserved.

Just seconds before the halftime interval Pavlovic fought hard in the box to garner an unlikely opening for the Jets. Teeing up Michael Bridges from five yards, the Englishman scuffed his shot when he seemed certain to score.

The Jets looked inspired on the return from the break and started the second stanza the better of the two teams. Thompson and then Ben Kantarovski forced Galekovic into saves in the 53rd and 58th minutes respectively.

However with Thompson making way to a standing ovation in honour of his five-year service to the club on 61 minutes, the Jets lost their attacking impetus.

And in the 74th minute Adelaide scored the winner when Leckie side footed past Kennedy from six yards out. With Pantelis weaving through two Jets defenders wide on the right, Leckie had the simplest of tasks after finding himself unmarked just metres from goal.

Abbas responded to Adelaide taking the advantage again and shot a fierce left-foot drive low to Galekovic's right. However the 'keeper saved and Newcastle couldn't find a way past the Reds stopper in the final 15 minutes.

Indeed, it was Adelaide's Fury-bound midfielder Michael Marrone who enjoyed the last clear cut opening of the match, heading over when unmarked six yards out.

The Jets now wait on the outcome of other matches before knowing their semi-final opponent, while Adelaide continues its preparation for its upcoming Asian Champions League crusade.

Newcastle Jets 1 (Abbas 41) Adelaide United 2 (Barbiero 8, Leckie 74) @ EnergyAustralia Stadium, 12/02/10. Crowd: 6,880