Newcastle Jets 2-3 Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners have clung on for their first win under Alen Stajcic – and just their second of the season – defeating Newcastle 3-2 at Hunter Stadium.
Goalkeeper Ben Kennedy came to the rescue in stoppage time, twice saving Roy O’Donovan’s penalty attempts after VAR enforced a retake.
On a rain-soaked and heavy pitch, the Jets had all the chances in the first half, but couldn’t make the visitors pay. Steven Ugarkovic drew a wonderful save out of Kennedy with his strike on the half-volley, before Dimi Petratos hit the base of the post from the edge of the area.
The Mariners responded brilliantly after the interval, with NPL recruit Jordan Murray putting them ahead in the 51st minute, latching onto a Matt Millar through pass to slide the ball home past the onrushing Glen Moss.
Millar – who has signed for the Jets for next season – continued to cause havoc with his direct running, and again played provider for the Mariners’ second, beating two players down the right flank before cutting the ball back for Jem Karacan. With so many bodies in front of him, the stand-in skipper did well to find a gap to beat Moss from 15 yards.
The visitors’ dream run continued in the 67th minute, with Murray laying the ball off to Connor Pain, who deftly created space for the shot which he placed into the far corner, just beyond the reach of the despairing goalkeeper.
The contest was far from over, however. The Jets pulled a goal back just seven minutes later, Roy O’Donovan turning home Lachie Jackson’s low cross from close range.
Nigel Boogard was the unlikely assist-maker for the second, winning the ball off a long diagonal and hammering it in low from the left, which Ben Kennedy could only parry straight into Ronny Vargas’ knee. Vargas knew very little about it, but will undoubtedly be happy to claim the goal.
As the game headed into the fourth minute of stoppage time, the Mariners were left cursing their luck, as referee Adam Kersey spotted an off-the-ball infringement in the box. Jonathan Aspro was the guilty party, pushing O’Donovan in the back as Daniel Georgievski swung in a cross.
O’Donovan dusted himself off the take the spot-kick, which a full-stretch Kennedy parried low to his left. Georgievski was first to the rebound, slotting it home to send the home crowd into delirium.
However, a lengthy VAR review found Georgievski had encroached way into the box – along with a host of other players from both teams. A retake was ordered, with the clock now ticking into the 99th minute.
O’Donovan took a virtually identical penalty, but Kennedy read his intentions and again was able to parry. And again, Georgievski was first to the rebound, but this time skewed his effort way wide of the target.
The Mariners breathed a sigh of relief as they secured their first win in Newcastle in over six years. Meanwhile, the Jets will be wondering how they let the point slip through their fingers.
Melbourne Victory 2-1 Brisbane Roar
Kosta Barbarouses came up with a double on Saturday night to defeat his former club, and equaled the A-League record for most goals against one opponent in a single season (7).
Barbarouses was the central figure in a contest that became as much about his ongoing battle with the linesman’s flag as his battle with the Roar backline. The Kiwi went close in the 23rd minute, latching onto a lofted ball over the top before checking back inside Jacob Pepper and curling his effort just wide – only to see the assistant referee (perhaps due to a directive from VAR) raise his flag incredibly late in the piece.
A minute later, a brilliant pass from Keisuke Honda played him through on goal. Barbarouses held off the defender before cooly sidefooting into the corner of the net.
What followed – in lieu of a celebration – was Barbarouses getting down on his hands and knees into the sujood prayer position – a touching and solemn tribute to his Muslim countrymen killed in the Christchurch massacre the day before.
Barbarouses added his second in the 39th minute, running onto Troisi’s lofted pass, and surprising Brendan White at his near post with a viscous left-footed volley on the narrowest of angles. The assistant again flagged him late for offside, but a VAR review showed Ruon Tongyik was just playing him on, and the goal stood.
The Victory were their own worst enemy in the second half, failing to make the most of their chances, and conceding from a situation completely of their own making.
After making a save from Dylan Wenzel-Halls, stand-in goalkeeper Matt Acton rolled the ball out to Raul Baena, who ill-advisedly let the ball run. Thomas Christensen seized upon the situation and robbed the Spaniard of possession – his tackle deflecting the loose ball into the path of Eric Bautheac. The Frenchman spotted Acton still off his line and unleashed a first-time lob over the goalkeeper’s head.
The Victory had umpteen chances to make the game safe – through Barbarouses, who surely should have had at least a hat trick – through Troisi, and via substitute Kenny Athiu, who was desperately unlucky to see his backheel come off the post. It mattered not, however, as Melbourne held on for a well-deserved first win in their last six games in all competitions.
The win moves them to 41 points – within a point of Sydney in 2nd, while Brisbane remain second to last with only 15 points.