Jets short on crew but still shock Syd­ney

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FOOTBALL - MCDON­ALD JONES STA­DIUM

IT was the day Syd­ney FC be­came the hunted in the Hunter and New­cas­tle proved they are se­ri­ous ti­tle con­tenders.

Goals from Dim­itri Petratos and An­drew Nabbout earned the Jets a thrilling and en­thralling vic­tory over the cham­pi­ons, one in which they played with 10 men for al­most 80 min­utes af­ter the dis­missal of Roy O’Donovan.

It was only Syd­ney’s sec­ond de­feat of the sea­son but hugely sym­bolic against the one side to chase them this sea­son.

In a sea­son of im­mense dis­plays from New­cas­tle, this was their most heroic.

Down to 10 men be­fore a quar­ter of an hour had been played, New­cas­tle some­how led at the break in a febrile, crack­ling at­mos­phere in front of 18,156 — the big­gest Jets crowd for al­most five years.

“The boys are pretty con­fi­dent now they can match it with any­one,” said Jets boss Ernie Mer­rick. “We haven’t won any­thing yet but that was a pretty spe­cial night against a very good team.”

That seemed a long way off when O’Donovan was dis- missed in just the 13th minute due to foot­ball em­brac­ing video tech­nol­ogy.

Without it the Ir­ish­man would have es­caped without pun­ish­ment for swing­ing his closed fist into the side of Jordy Buijs’ head as the two chased a long ball.

In­stead he suf­fered the slow death of the VAR re­view. Buijs hardly im­pressed by rolling around the floor, and the video re­view took far too long, but in the end it was the right call. For one of the more thought­ful and en­gag­ing strik­ers in the league, it was a brain snap for which O’Donovan may pay with a lengthy sus­pen­sion.

Buijs be­came the sub­ject of boos ev­ery time he went near the ball, which iron­i­cally was of­ten, for the Dutch­man was out­stand­ing when­ever New­cas­tle threat­ened — at least un­til the 42nd minute.

The Jets had barely threat­ened thanks to their de­nuded at­tack, but from a free­kick Buijs and Niko­lai Topor-Stan­ley came to­gether in the Syd­ney box, and as the Jets cap­tain went down ref­eree Chris Beath awarded a penalty. As a de­ci­sion it was rather more brie than pecorino, but Dimi Petratos was un­con­cerned, ri­fling home the spot­kick.

Even with the man ad­van­tage Syd­ney had been strangely pas­sive, Mi­los Ninkovic’s snap­shot just wide was the clos­est they went to dis­turb­ing the Jets’ goal.

“Roy get­ting sent off was the worst thing that hap­pened to us,” said Syd­ney coach Gra­ham Arnold. “It be­came an at­ti­tude prob­lem. The ef­fort level was there but the crisp­ness and the ex­e­cu­tion let us down.

“At 1-1 I thought we’d go on to win it, but the goal from Nabbout changed it.”

Buijs, you knew, just had to get in­volved, and af­ter a daft foul by Ri­ley McGree the cen­tre­back lined up a free­kick out on the right in the 51st minute. Curling it to the far post, Buijs watched Bobo nod home his 22nd goal of the sea­son.

The crowd had be­come sub­dued and needed fir­ing up. Nabbout had the an­swer in what could be his last game for the Jets with Ja­panese side Urawa Reds cir­cling, the winger took a pass from Petratos ran at the de­fence and scored from 25m out.

Syd­ney’s Matt Si­mon and Jack Dun­can (Jets) clash in front of goal in New­cas­tle. Picture: AAP

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