Jets short on crew but still shock Sydney
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