Round 20 End Split Review: Newcastle a win away from a play-off spot

By Jeremy Ruane
With compliments of

HAL Round Review

A goal-of-the-season contender from Andrew Nabbout earned Newcastle Jets a 2-2 draw at Western Sydney Wanderers as the final three games in twentieth round action in the Hyundai A-League took place on the third weekend in February.

The 10,065 fans at Spotless Stadium witnessed another match punctuated by the intervention of the Video Assistant Referee, who first ruled out an early Chris Ikonomidis strike due to a marginal offside call.

Wests’ fans didn’t have long to wait to celebrate a goal, however, Oriol Riera despatching the first of two penalties he would convert in the contest, one in which the visitors were prevented from restoring parity before half-time courtesy some fine Vedran Janjetovic saves – those which thwarted Patito Rodriguez and Dimitri Petratos were particularly noteworthy.

The latter was not to be denied, however, and curled home a beauty three minutes into the second spell to get Newcastle back on level terms, a feat Nabbout repeated twenty minutes later after two deft touches took him past two opponents before he bent the ball into the top far corner of the net with the outside of his right foot – an absolute ripper of a goal!

It came just sixty seconds after Riera had restored Wests’ lead from the penalty spot, with the VAR again central to the action, deeming that Nikolai Topor-Stanley had handled the ball in the area, despite his having no time to react to the ball rebounding off an opponent a metre in front of him, if that!

There was no stopping the man in the control box, however, as late in the match the VAR was responsible for denying Newcastle a match-winning goal after a foul on Janjetovic by Jason Hoffman which contributed to the goalkeeper directing the ball into his own net.

2-2 was also the outcome at Coopers Stadium, where ten-man Adelaide United came from two goals down to earn a share of the spoils with Central Coast Mariners in front of 8,282 fans.

Andrew Hoole opened the scoring with a seventh minute free-kick for the visitors, who found themselves facing ten men eleven minutes later, Ersan Gulum ruled to have been the last defender by referee Shaun Evans as he brought down Trent Buhagiar.

The ten men made light of their position, pounding away in search of an equaliser, to which Central Coast responded with a series of chances which brought the best out of Paul Izzo.

There was no further alteration to the scoreline before the interval, but eight minutes after it, Ryan Strain headed a Hoole corner into his own net to double the visitors’ advantage and set up the prospect of a big upset.

But Adelaide kept on coming, and pulled a goal back on the hour when Jordan Elsey’s thumping header, from a Ben Garuccio free-kick, left Ben Kennedy beaten all ends up.

The goal gave United a massive boost, and they piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser. George Blackwood hit the post sixteen minutes from time, and nine minutes later hit the crossbar, off the underside of which the ball cannoned into the net to give Adelaide their deserved equaliser.

Kennedy then produced a stunning save to prevent Adelaide substitute Dzengis Cavusevic from netting what would surely have been the winning goal for the ten men, who had to make do with a share of the spoils against a Central Coast team who are making an unwelcome habit of squandering winning positions.

Across the Tasman at Westpac Stadium, one of their lowest home crowds ever – just 4,806 fans – saw bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix record a rare but scarcely deserved 2-1 win over Perth Glory, who will forever rue Diego Castro’s missed “Panenka” penalty nine minutes from the end of a contest which the visitors had largely dominated.

For all their possession and territorial advantage, however, debutant Wellington goalkeeper Tando Velaphi didn’t have a great dealt to do throughout proceedings, although he was charged with fishing the ball out of his net nine minutes before half-time as Castro curled home a gem of a free-kick from inside the ‘D’.

That matched a stunning twenty yard opener from Sarpreet Singh, who marked his first A-League start with a third minute screamer which careered into the top far corner of the net to delight the natives.

They were happier still in stoppage time, as substitutes Michael McGlinchey and Roy Krishna combined on the left, the latter driving in a near post cross which ricocheted into the net off the retreating figure of Shane Lowry to give Wellington an unlikely victory.

The bottom two teams clash at Central Coast Stadium on Friday evening as 21st round action gets under way. A Saturday night triple-header follows, with Newcastle knowing that if they defeat Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, they’ll secure themselves a play-offs place.

Melbourne Victory and Adelaide meet in the match of the round at AAMI Park before Perth welcome Melbourne City to NIB Stadium. And to wrap up the round, Allianz Stadium plays host to the Sydney derby.

Match details

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4 (O. Riera (7 pen, 67 pen)) – Newcastle United Jets FC 2 (D. Petratos (48), A. Nabbout (68)); HT 1-0
Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (S. Singh (3), “oggie” (90)) – Perth Glory FC 1 (D. Castro (36)); HT 1-1
Adelaide United FC 2 (J. Elsey (x), G. Blackwood (x)) – Central Coast Mariners FC 2 (A. Hoole (7), TBA (x)); HT 0-1

League ladder

P W D L F A GD Pts

Sydney FC 20 15 4 1 50 14 +36 49

Newcastle Jets 20 11 5 4 43 24 +19 38

Melbourne City 20 10 3 7 30 26 +4 33

Adelaide United 20 8 5 7 24 25 -1 29

Melbourne Victory 20 7 5 8 28 30 -2 26

Western Sydney 20 6 8 6 26 33 -7 26


Brisbane Roar 20 6 4 10 24 31 -7 22

Perth Glory 20 6 1 13 24 41 -17 19

Central Coast 20 3 8 9 21 29 -8 17

Wellington Phoenix 20 4 5 11 24 41 -17 17