Youngsters star for Jets

Youngsters Jason Hoffman, Jason Naidovski and Sean Rooney starred for the Jets in the club's hard-fought 3-2 win over the Wellington Phoenix in their opening round clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Youngsters Jason Hoffman, Jason Naidovski and Sean Rooney starred for the Jets in the club's hard-fought 3-2 win over the Wellington Phoenix in their opening round clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Hoffman, who snared his first goal for the club during the Jets recent Asian Champions League campaign, scored his first goals in the Hyundai A-League with two strikes inside the first 22 minutes.

Wellington took advantage of two howling defensive errors by the Jets with goals to defender Ben Sigmund and new English import Chris Greenache to claw their way back to 2-2 at half-time.

But second half substitutes Naidovski and Rooney turned the match back in Newcastle's favour when they combined to score the winner just six minutes from full-time.

Rooney showed plenty of pace to chase down a long ball and instinctively fire a cross back into the box where Naidovski headed the ball past the outstretched reach of Wellington goalkeeper Mark Paston.

Naidovski had come on for Sasho Petrovski in the 69th minute while Rooney replaced Italian import Fabio Vignaroli nine minutes later and Jets coach Branko Culina said it was a last second decision to send Naidovski out before Rooney.

"Sean was the first player I was going to put on but I just felt Jason gave us a little bit of an edge up front in the air and the way the game was been played we needed someone who could win it in the air," Culina said.

"Sasho has had an interrupted pre-season so he was not going to be a 90-minute player and we had two young guys on the bench ready and raring to go, mind you neither of those was ready for more than 30 minutes."

"But in the end the two of them combined to score the winner, so that worked out well for us."

Culina also heaped praise on Hoffman, who has just returned with Naidovski from representative duties with the Australian Under 20 team in Argentina.

"I said to him (Hoffman) 'you are going to be a wonderful player but you just need to be a little bit more composed in front of goal'," said Culina. "Some of the reports I was getting from the coaching staff was he need more composure and I said that is OK. That is something we can work on. And Jason has done the work."

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said he was disappointed with the result and was at a loss to explain the performance from his side after a confident warm-up to the season.

"I thought we were hesitant, right through the side and for whatever reason we took time to adjust," he said after the match.

"We looked good in the pre-season against Melbourne and the Central Coast which is probably the only benchmarks we have had, and we looked very solid so today is very disappointing."