VIC­TORY FOR THE VIC­TORY

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - CARLY ADNO

IN THE end the fairy­tale was a step too far for the New­cas­tle Jets, who fell to Mel­bourne Vic­tory at the fi­nal hur­dle.

De­spite a record crowd of 29,410 at McDon­ald Jones Sta­dium urg­ing their team on, the Jets sim­ply couldn’t over­come the ex­pe­ri­enced Vic­tory side, even­tu­ally los­ing the grand fi­nal 1-0 after Kosta Bar­barouses’s con­tro­ver­sial first-half goal proved de­ci­sive.

It was al­most the per­fect story; last sea­son’s wood­en­spoon­ers with a chance to claim the ti­tle just 12 months later, but the dream was spoiled by Kevin Mus­cat’s Vic­tory.

That’s not to take any­thing away from the vis­i­tors, who have be­come the A-League’s most suc­cess­ful team by claim­ing their fourth cham­pi­onship.

The Jets, led by Ernie Mer­rick, can be proud of their sea­son and there wouldn’t have been a sin­gle Novo­cas­trian leav­ing the sta­dium who didn’t ac­knowl­edge that fact. It was a proud night in the Hunter and the buzz it cre­ated in the re­gion will leave a last­ing legacy.

Un­for­tu­nately it ended in ugly scenes, with Roy O’Dono­van sent off for a hideously high boot on Lawrence Thomas. In­deed it was the Jets against Thomas for much of the game.

The home side cre­ated the bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties in the first half, with Ronny Var­gas and Dimi Pe­tratos in par­tic­u­lar show­ing the type of form that has de­fined the Jets all sea­son.

Led and in­spired by Thomas, the Vic­tory’s de­fence was im­pen­e­tra­ble.

But they wouldn’t have gone into the break without a touch of for­tune, and it came through the VAR. In the ninth minute Bar­barouses gave the vis­i­tors the lead, via a de­flec­tion off John Koutroumbis, after a Leroy Ge­orge free kick was headed down to him by James Donachie. Donachie was clearly in an off­side po­si­tion, but the goal stood de­spite the VAR’s in­ter­ven­tion.

It was a clear and ob­vi­ous er­ror, so the de­ci­sion was a baf­fling one.

There was time in the first half for the Jets to get back in the game, but with the Vic­tory sit­ting so deep it was tough for the home side.

There was a slight drop in pace from Vic­tory in the sec­ond half, but they made up for it with ex­pe­ri­ence, by thor­oughly clos­ing down and nul­li­fy­ing the Jets.

Pic­ture: GETTY IMAGES

Mel­bourne Vic­tory’s Kosta Bar­barouses scores past New­cas­tle goal­keeper Glen Moss in the A-League grand fi­nal at New­cas­tle’s McDon­ald Jones Sta­dium last night

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