Jets edge Gold Coast in thriller

The Newcastle Jets have defeated Gold Coast United 3-2 in an entertaining round 18 clash in the Hyundai A-League, played at EnergyAustralia Stadium this evening.

The Newcastle Jets have defeated Gold Coast United 3-2 in an entertaining round 18 clash in the Hyundai A-League, played at EnergyAustralia Stadium this evening.

The win propels the Jets from sixth to fourth on the competition ladder, and is the Hunter club-s fourth win from five matches.

A spectacular strike from Jobe Wheelhouse, an opportunistic finish from Sean Rooney and a clinical effort from substitute Sasho Petrovski secured the points for the home side despite a Shane Smeltz double for the visitors.

Indeed, Wheelhouse-s stunning 30-yard volley on six minutes was just the beginning of the afternoon-s entertainment.

With Korean Jin-Hyung Song picking out the central midfielder with a smart ball from the right side, Wheelhouse struck first time to send his shot rocketing past a hapless Jess Van Strattan in the Gold Coast goal.

Just four minutes later Newcastle ‘keeper Neil Young did well to prevent new United recruit Charlie Miller from scoring on his Gold Coast debut. With Michael Thwaite having sent in a low cross from the right, the former Scottish international struck first time but Young did well to claim at the second attempt.

While the match settled thereafter, Newcastle manager Branko Culina was forced into an early substitution seven minutes before halftime when Italian marquee player Fabio Vignaroli succumbed to a knee injury.

With Jets players perhaps fearing the worst for their experienced teammate before the break, New Zealand international striker Smeltz took advantage of a lapse in concentration to make his way into the Newcastle box.

With the Jets defence retreating, Ben Kantarovski felled the attacker, with referee Ben Williams pointing to the spot. Smeltz made no mistake from 12-yards, restoring parity to the match in what was the final significant action of the opening 45.

After half time the game panned out into an even and open affair with both teams showing enterprise but lacking a final decisive effort.

That was, at least, until the quick thinking and audaciousness of Newcastle captain Matt Thompson unlocked the Gold Coast line on 70 minutes.

With Tarek Elrich taking a routine throw in for the Jets, Thompson used the outside of his boot in an attempt to lob Van Strattan from just inside the area, the former Juventus number two ‘keeper only managed to palm the ball onto the bar. With the goal exposed, Rooney reacted quickest, diving to head home from a slight angle into an unguarded net.

With a home crowd of 5,254 urging them on the Jets continued to attack and extended their lead 11 minutes later.

Song, who was lively throughout, won a header, nodding on to a marauding Rooney. Rooney then dribbled past Anderson on the byline before sending his cross across the face of goal and into the path of Petrovski, who slotted home calmly to put the Jets 3-1 up.

Gold Coast have shown plenty of fighting spirit in some of their matches this season and despite being two goals down were determined not to leave Newcastle without a fight. And, their persistence was rewarded just four minutes later when Smeltz scored to leave Newcastle fans on tenterhooks for the final five minutes of the match.

With Matthew Osman shooting from the edge of the area, Young fumbled straight into the path of Smeltz who simply couldn-t miss from a metre out.

And while Young may have had a hand in Smeltz-s second, he still had time to pull off one of the saves of the season to deny Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina who had been scheming and probing all game. With the former PSV craftsman launching a curling effort from the edge of the area, Young dived to his left to tip over the bar and ensure Newcastle remained the form team of the Hyundai A-League.

Newcastle coach Culina was delighted at the determination and courage that his side has displayed to turn their season around so significantly in recent weeks.

“It-s very, very pleasing and it-s a credit to the players and everyone around the club who have pulled together to make sure this is all possible. It just goes to show that when you work hard and you believe in yourself, and each other, then everything-s possible.”

“We-ve believed in each other all year, it-s just that sometimes when the results are not quite going your way you don-t quite believe as much as you probably should. Then doubts creep in and before you know it you don-t play the way you think you can. It-s been a tremendous turnaround by the players and they are reaping the benefits,” Culina said.

Belmont Football Club were also beneficiaries of the home side-s fine performance as the recipients of the Hyundai Goals for Grassroots promotion.

The Jets will stay in Newcastle to take on Robbie Fowler-s North Queensland Fury next Sunday at EnergyAustralia Stadium. Tickets for this enticing encounter are available from www.proticket.com.au or by calling (02) 4915 2345.

Match Details:
Newcastle Jets Squad: 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c) (22. Kaz PATAFTA 77-), 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 15. Sean ROONEY, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI (3. Adam D-APUZZO 38-), 25. Labinot HALITI (9. Sasho PETROVSKI 70-)

Unused substitutes: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk)

Yellow cards: Wheelhouse 24-, Kantarovski 43-, Elrich 53-

Red cards: Nil

Gold Coast United squad: 1. Jess VAN STRATTAN, 2. Steve PANTELIDIS (23. Steve FITZSIMMONS 75-), 3. Michael THWAITE, 7. Zenon CARAVELLA, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Jason CULINA, 13. Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 16. Kristian REES, 19. Andrew BARISIC (17. Matt OSMAN 70-), 24. ANDERSON, 34. Charlie MILLER (15. Tahj MINNIECON 66-)

Unused substitutes: 20. Scott HIGGINS (gk)

Yellow cards: Pantelidis 65-, Van Den Brink 77-

Red cards: Nil

Newcastle Jets: 3 (Wheelhouse 6-, Rooney 70-, Petrovski 81-)
Gold Coast United: 2 (Smeltz 43-/84-)
Referee: Ben WILLIAMS
Crowd: 5,254