Newcastle Jets have won their first away match of the season to jump off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers FC on Saturday.
First-half goals to Enver Alivodic and Lee Ki-Je had the Jets in complete control at the break before a sublime free-kick from Nick Kalmar six minutes into the second half got the home side back in it.
But the young Wanderers – who had five teenagers in their starting XI and were playing their ninth game in 28 days – couldn’t find the decisive equalizer.
They are now back on the bottom of the table, three points behind the Jets and in the box seat to finish with the wooden spoon.
WHAT THEY SAID
"We wanted to come out and get three points. It was a tough game, the first half was good and then second half we were under the pump but really glad to get three points. It’s hard to come here and get a result so I’m really proud of the boys." – Jets defender Daniel Mullen
"It’s disappointing, it’s been a busy schedule for us but we can’t use that as an excuse. We weren’t good enough today. It doesn’t matter who we put on the pitch we expect to win all the time. The young boys did well, made a good account of themselves but again we fell short." – Wanderers midfielder Nick Kalmar
0-1 Alivodic (22’) – A careless turnover from Wanderers defender Sam Gallaway put the visitors on the attack, with Edson Montano’s pass getting Alivodic in behind the defence. Ante Covic inexplicably came charging out of his box, allowing the Serbian to take the ball around him and lash it home as a couple of Wanderers defenders did their best to try and get back to clear.
0-2 Lee (45’) – Mitch Cooper’s brilliant switch from the right found Andrew Hoole and he held up possession superbly, waiting for the overlapping run of Lee. The Korean took one touch before rifling the ball into the top if the net, beating Covic at his near post.
1-2 Kalmar 51’) – A foul by Taylor Regan gave the Wanderers a free-kick in a dangerous central area 25 yards from goal. Kalmar showed great technique to get the ball over the wall and into the corner of the net.
Just after the half hour mark Jets flyer Andrew Hoole capitalised on some slack defending from Daniel Alessi to get on the end of a hopeful long-ball forward. Hoole surged into the Wanderers box and played a ball across the face of goal which Sam Gallaway failed to deal with, leaving Edson Montano with a simple tap-in to the empty net for what should have been a 2-0 lead for the visitors. But the Ecuadorians celebrations were short-lived, with assistant referee Sarah Ho’s flag raised for an apparent off-side. Replays showed it was a shocking decision, with Montano at least five-metres behind play when Hoole crossed. Luckily for the Jets it didn’t cost them in the end but there’s no doubt the decision will go down as one of the worst blunders in the history of the competition so far.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Wanderers winless run against the Jets has extended to five games, while they have now failed to keep a clean-sheet in any of their last seven matches. It was Newcastle’s first win on the road this season and it also snapped a three-game streak without scoring a goal.
Down 2-0 at the break the Wanderers needed some inspiration and Kalmar provided it with a peach of a free-kick. Not only did he manage to get it up over the wall and then back down again but he also had enough power and accuracy to beat Andrew Hoole who had raced back towards the goal-line to provide extra cover. The exquisite free-kick also left Jets ‘keeper Ben Kennedy rooted to the spot but even if he had dived he wouldn’t have got near it.
With so many young faces in his side, Wanderers boss Tony Popovic needed his senior players to lead the way. Unfortunately goal-keeper – and skipper for the day – Ante Covic didn’t oblige. The experienced gloveman made a poor error in judgement to come flying out of his area in the lead-up to the Jets’ first-goal, while he was beaten at his near-post for their second right on the stroke of half-time.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Wanderers boss Tony Popovic took the punt and blooded five teenagers in his starting XI, with more than half his side having just 19 starts between them. While the club’s horror schedule was a factor in his decision, the move back-fired. The Jets’ superior experience proved too much for the youngsters, giving the visitors a vital win in the race to avoid the dreaded timber utensil.
THE FINAL WORD
It’s another midweek game for the Wanderers, this time in the Hyundai A-League with a trip to Brisbane to take on the finals-chasing Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night. The Jets should go into their home clash with Adelaide United on Sunday with some renewed confidence, with their only other win this campaign coming against the Reds.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Covic, Alessi (Golec 43’), La Rocca, Aspropotamitis, Gallaway, Perkatis (Takahagi 46’), Trifiro, Fofanah (Rukavytsya 69’), Kalmar, Sotirio, Kuzmanovski
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy, Cowburn, Mullen, Regan, Ki-Je, B. Kantarovski, Pepper (Welsh 90+3’), Cooper (Pavicevic 70’), Alivodic (Gallagher 77’), Hoole, Montano
Scorers: Alivodic 22’, Lee 45’, Kalmar 51’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Hoole 52’, Lee 81’, Cowburn 81’, Mullen 88’
Conditions: 21C, Overcast
Attendance: 10,109 @ Pirtek Stadium