Teen leads Jets to victory

Newcastle has upset top-of-the-table Melbourne 1-0 in an entertaining Hyundai A-League Round 8 clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium in Newcastle on Saturday night.

Newcastle has upset top-of-the-table Melbourne 1-0 in an entertaining Hyundai A-League Round 8 clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium in Newcastle on Saturday night.

The defending Hyundai A-League champions made the boldest statement of their title defence so far and unearthed one of the competition's brightest talents for the future.

Teenage striker Marko Jesic was called into the Jets team a couple of weeks ago to replace Jason Hoffman, who suffered a season-ending knee injury.

The Jets were buoyed by the return of brothers Adam and Joel Griffiths from injury and 16-year-old midfielder Ben Kantarovski from international duties with the Joeys.

Missing from the Victory's starting line up was midfielder Jose Luis Lopez, who was returning from national World Cup qualifying duties with the Costa Rican national team.

The Jets' first chance of the game came when imports Edmundo Zura and Jesper Hakansson teamed up down the right side flank in the third minute. The Ecuador international dashed away from Melbourne's Rodrigo Vargas and slotted a neat pass into space for Hakansson, whose shot was well-saved by Victory goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos.

Melbourne had its fair share of chances early in the game too.

Midfielder Billy Celeski fired an on-target shot in the ninth minute to give Ante Covic his first real test for the game.

But the star of the first half was Newcastle's newest talent Jesic, who kept the Victory defenders on their toes throughout for the full 45 minutes. The 19-year-old striker's first chance came in the 19th minute when he pounced on a loose ball after team-mate James Holland was dispossessed inside the box.

Theoklitos managed to get a hand on Jesic's thumping drive but the Jets No.24 had another chance in the 24th minute when he headed a pinpoint cross from Tarek Elrich.

The crowd erupted in the 31st minute when Hakansson's shot outside the box found Vargas' right hand inside the box, leaving Zura to take the penalty.

The Jets' marquee signing had his best chance to score his maiden goal in the Hyundai A-League but could only manage to slam the ball into the bottom left post.

A similar incident occurred in the 35th minute when a Kantarovski cross caught the underarm of Melbourne defender Matthew Kemp. The Dane's emotional protest curried little sympathy from referee Matthew Breeze who gave Hakansson a yellow card.

With scores locked at 0-0 at half-time, both teams were evenly poised heading into the second stanza. Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick replaced Kemp with Michael Thwaite at the start of the second half and reshuffled his team's formation to include three players at the back.

The turning point in the match came in the 58th minute when Victory talisman Archie Thompson was given his marching orders by Breeze for dissent on the back of a spiteful clash with Jobe Wheelhouse.

Thompson's red card marked the first time he had been sent off in a Hyundai A-League game and forced Merrick's men to play with only 10 men for the fourth game this season.

With anticipation mounting for Jets playmakers Joel Griffiths and Jin-Hyung Song's entry into game, Merrick surprised the crowd of 11,384 when he replaced Carlos Hernandez with Nick Ward in the 65th minute.

Korean import Song ran on the ground moments later and received an approving roar from the crowd. He didn't waste time making an impact and gave Zura a chance to make amends from his failed penalty attempt with a deft back heel in the 71st minute but the tiring striker overran the ball to give up possession.

Van Egmond ushered Joel Griffiths into the game in the 77th minute when the reigning Johnny Warren Medallist replaced Noel Spencer. Griffiths immersed himself into the action-packed second half immediately, setting up Jesic for another well-weighted shot only to be denied again by Theoklitos, who had a busy night in goals.

Breeze again reached into his pocket in the 79th minute when he booked Victory winger Evan Berger for holding.

Song fired a sliding shot from the top of the box in the 82nd minute that seemed certain to break the scoreless deadlock but again Theoklitos was equal to the task and firmly saved the ball with both hands.

Persistence finally paid off for the tireless Jesic, when the National Youth League graduate turned and volleyed a powerful shot into the top of the net.

Newcastle clinically contained the undermanned Victory for the rest of the game but suffered a late setback when Zura was stretchered from the field with a cramp in the 88th minute.

Newcastle Jets 1 (Marko Jesic 82) Melbourne Victory 0 @ EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle Crowd: 11, 384 Referee: Matthew Breeze