Bernie Ibini and Roy O’Donovan netted on either side of half time as Newcastle Jets came from behind to clinch a point in a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night.
The hosts looked in command of the contest with a one-goal advantage deep into the second half, until Wanderers substitute Patrick Ziegler conceded a penalty with a clumsy challenge on Luca Pršo and O’Donovan made the Wanderers pay with an 81st-minute equaliser.
An electrifying opening first half produced chances aplenty down either end. Valentino Yuel scraped the bar, Steven Ugarkovic and Ibini slid respective strikes just wide of the post and Keanu Baccus spooned an unmarked header from close range off the mark as the Wanderers began to edge the back-and-forth contest.
Carl Robinson’s side were dealt a major blow on the half hour mark when Nicolai Müller limped off through injury; the Wanderers boss turned to Simon Cox to come off his bench and the striker made an instant impact.
Collecting the ball with one of his first touches in the contest, Cox drove across the edge of the box and dispatched a shot off the left-hand upright. Ibini was quickest to react, getting to the rebound and lashing home the opener against his former side.
A Nigel Boogaard miss unmarked at the back post proved the last kick of the first half, and the Jets defender could only put his head in his hands after squandering a brilliant opportunity to draw level.
Rain fell heavily at Bankwest Stadium throughout the second half but as the showers drenched the contest the chances dried up.
Robinson removed Ibini from action before Newcastle’s own number nine was thwarted down the other end by a desperate, lunging block from Ziggy Gordon.
With 10 minutes to play O’Donovan was handed an even greater chance to score, this time from the spot after a clumsy challenge from Patrick Ziegler on Luca Pršo in the box, providing the visitors a penalty O’Donovan comfortably converted.
With a point in hand the Jets dug deep to the final whistle to ensure the second hotly-contested fixture between the two sides in the 2020/21 A-League campaign ended with honours shared.
Yuel can’t capitalise on Baccus gaffe
Yuel came into this Matchweek 6 contest with three goals from as many games and could have easily extended that streak with a chance early in the first half.
Jason Hoffman offered an inviting cross into the box but Baccus was on the scene quickly to defend. The young midfielder’s interception was a poor one, bouncing out of his control into Yuel’s path.
The in-form striker lashed his shot on goal but could only shave the bar as he squandered a fanstastic chance to put the Jets ahead.
Ibini quickest to react to score against former side
After a hostile reception from Jets fans at McDonald Jones Stadium in Matchweek 3, Ibini returned to face his former side once more, and this time scored a goal to savour.
Cox sparked the chance with an excellent run, getting Boogaard’s legs in a tangle as he drove across goal and dispatched a shot past Jack Duncan, off the post and into Ibini’s path.
Western Sydney’s number nine pounced on the ball, drove it home with a first-time strike and ran away in passionate celebration.
Boogaard miss denies Jets an equaliser
With the first half in its dying embers, Boogaard ventured forward to contest an offensive Jets corner routine.
Wanderers ‘keeper Daniel Margush misread the delivery, going nowhere near to collecting the ball and leaving Boogaard at the back post with a vacant net to his left-hand side.
His volleyed attempt flashed wide of the post, and the chance evaporated as quickly as it had presented itself to the Jets captain.
Gordon with desperate sliding challenge to keep O’Donovan at bay
With O’Donovan dribbling toward goal and the angle for the shot opening up, a lunging sliding challenge from Gordon ensured the Jets remained goalless in the contest.
The brave, committed challenge received rigorous applause from the home fans, who appreciated the desperation shown by their defensive warrior.
Ziegler challenge hands Jets an equaliser from the spot
With a 1-0 lead in hand, Robinson went to his bench to replace central defender Tass Mourdoukoutas with Ziegler with a little over ten minutes on the clock.
The decision backfired. Ziegler’s trailing leg caught Pršo in the box and the midfielder went down, winning the Jets a penalty which O’Donovan rifled into the back of the net with ease.