The Wanderers have re-joined Brisbane atop of the Hyundai A-League table after they claimed an important 1-0 win over the Jets on Sunday.
Western Sydney dominated the contest at Hunter Stadium registering 15 shots to the home side’s 7 but were unable to land a killer blow.
In the end a first-half strike from Jaushua Sotirio made the difference on the scoreboard, with Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard inches away from rescuing a point when his late header thundered into the woodwork.
Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti almost covered himself in glory at the death as he came up for a Jets corner, lashing a goal bound effort into a Wanderers defender.
The result sees the Wanderers complete a season sweep over the Jets and they now trail Brisbane by a solitary strike on goal difference.
The loss seriously dents Newcastle’s hopes of sneaking into the top six as they remain seven points adrift of the finals places with just four games to play.
0-1 Jaushua Sotirio (17’) – A ball over the top found Mark Bridge in space, with the Wanderers striker putting in a teasing cross from the byline. The ball evaded Mitch Nichols and a couple of Jets defenders inside the six-yard box but Sotirio was lurking at the back post and coolly slotted past Birighitti to register his second ever A-League goal.
The Wanderers had cries for a penalty when Romeo Castelen made a weaving foray into the box that ended with the intervention of Birighitti. There were hints of a foul as the Jets keeper batted the ball from danger but Japanese referee Koichiro Fukushima ruled play-on. Topor-Stanley rose highest to meet the resulting corner at the back post but couldn’t direct his header on goal.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Wanderers have now won three straight against the Jets, equaling a club record.
Only once in the history of this clash has either team scored more than two goals in a match (WSW scored 3 in Rd 27, 2012/13).
As has so often been the case this season Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti kept his side in the contest with a string of clutch saves. With his side down a solitary goal the 24-year-old pulled off fingertip saves to deny Scott Neville, Andreu and Mark Bridge. Unfortunately it proved to be in vein as the Jets misfired at the other end, Birighitti showing his teammates how it’s done with a sensational late effort on goal.
The finishing ability of Castelen continues to be a concern for Tony Popovic. Capable of flashes of brilliance his shots on goal have too often failed to hit the target this season. The Dutchman had a great chance to double his side’s advantage just after the half-hour mark when he was teed up Dimas but fired wide of the near post with the goal gaping.
THE FINAL WORD
This was a typically workmanlike performance from the Wanderers as they strangled the life out of the home side with their ball retention and physicality.
While the visitors failed to convert their dominance on the scoreboard one goal was enough to maintain their unbeaten record at Hunter Stadium.
With Victory and Sydney FC both suffering heavy defeats on Saturday, this was the perfect opportunity for Scott Miller’s side to make a statement.
There was a great atmosphere before kick-off as Newcastle celebrated their connection with local grassroots clubs but unfortunately it was not matched by their performance.
Newcastle Jets: Birighitti, Boogaard, Kantarovski, Alivodic, Poljak, Trifunovic (Kitto 73’), Leonardo, Ugarkovic, Nordstrand, Jackson, Cowburn
Western Sydney Wanderers: Reddy (gk), Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (c), Jamieson, Andreu (Baccus 84’), Dimas, Nichols, Castelen (Vidosic 68’), Sotirio (Santalab 63’), Bridge
Scorers: Sotirio (17’)
Red cards: nil
Yellow cards: Jackson 32’, Bridge 67’, Alberto 80’, Dimas 88’
Conditions: 29°C, sunny
Attendance: 12,151 @ Hunter Stadium