Newcastle hang on for first victory after double sucker punch against Phoenix

Newcastle Jets left Wellington Phoenix on the floor with two classic counter attacking goals to get their season up and running with a 2-1 victory over the Kiwi outfit in Wollongong.

South Sudanese international Valentino Yuel scored his third goal of the season after a brilliant Jets breakaway on eight minutes before Roy O'Donovan became the 14th man in A-League history to notch half a century of goals with another swift Newcastle counter shortly after the interval.

Having switched off twice, Wellington rued their failure to make the most of their dominance. Luke DeVere and Ulises Davila were denied by a spectacular Jack Duncan save and the foot of the post respectively in the first half, while David Ball cracked the woodwork with a bullet header in the second.

Davila gave Phoenix a lifeline by dispatching an 85th minute spot-kick after Cameron Devlin was felled by Jets youngster Blake Archbold in the area, but it was not enough for the New Zealanders to forge a late equaliser.

It is Newcastle's first win of the season, having lost four consecutive matches prior. 

They leapfrog Phoenix, 11th after two matches played, into 10th.

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Key moments

Ufuk Talay's side flew out of the blocks. Davila clipped a ball in behind for Tomer Hemed, but the Israeli striker took an airswing as Jets defender Nigel Boogaard closed in. Sotirio was sent in the clear and although he failed to tee up Hemed for what would've been a tap-in, the assistants flag was eventually raised. 

Newcastle opened the lead with a classic transition goal. Thurgate seized possession and found O'Donovan, who turned brilliantly and released Yuel into open space with a perfectly weighted pass. The ex-Western United man took one touch and swept his finish in off the post for this third goal of the season. 

Wellington rallied and came close to an equaliser twice. Duncan pulled off a top drawer save to get a strong right hand to DeVere's bullet header from point-blank range after Davila found the centre back free on the penalty spot. Then, Mexican international Davila whacked a fierce drive off the post from outside the box with Duncan beaten.

The Phoenix continued to press for an equaliser in the second where Ball clattered the woodwork with a brilliant glancing header and Sotirio could not readjust in time to fire past Duncan.

But the Kiwis were hit with another sucker punch when O'Donovan became the 14th man in A-League history to notch 50 goals. The Irishman was released into the clear by Steven Ugarkovic and with Stefan Marinovic out of his box O'Donovan stroked it into the net to double the lead.

The chances kept coming for Wellington. Tim Payne volleyed Ball's cross low and hard but it flashed past the far post, Davila swivelled and shot wide after taking down Sotirio's cross in the box. A continual threat for the Phoenix, Payne delivered a fantastic ball into the area but substitute Mirza Muratovic could not apply a finish arriving at the back post.

At the other end, Yuel received a chance to ice the match for Newcastle when Petratos released the forward one on one but on this occasion Yuel's finish was high and wayward. Then, Boogaard was denied a collectors item - a bicycle kick that was executed beautifully only for Marinovic to palm it out for a corner. 

Phoenix were handed a lifeline when Davila converted an 85th minute penalty after Jets substitute Archbold felled Devlin in the area. Muratovic's effort was smothered by Connor O'Toole and Joshua Laws sent a free header wide as the Jets were left hanging on.

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Next Matches

Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets
Friday, 29 January 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports
Match Centre

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix 
Saturday, 31 January 2021
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT
Venue: Central Coast Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports
Match Centre

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