Wounded Jets downed in derby

A gritty Jets side has gone down 2-0 to the Central Coast Mariners in front of a season high crowd at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

A valiant Newcastle Jets outfit has been defeated by local rivals the Central Coast Mariners in front of a season high crowd of 13,467 at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday evening.

An early ankle injury to skipper Kasey Wehrman certainly didn-t help the Jets cause in the F3 Derby, with Branko Culina having to throw teenager James Virgili into the fray in just the 12th minute as a result.

The Mariners were able to capitalise on the Jets- depleted squad, as the home side had to make do without the services of a string of regular starters. Overall, it was a gritty performance by Newcastle, but the increasingly thin squad was ultimately unable to get past a stingy Central Coast defensive unit.

Culina explained after the game that losing the talismanic Wehrman so soon after the opening whistle significantly hurt the Jets’ chances.

“It is not ideal is it,” he said. “Of course it was significant, (Wehrman) is our most inspirational player and one of our best players.”

“It doesn-t help with injuries. I don-t know what we-ve done, but to have this many injuries, to have as many as nine or ten players out over a long period of time is just incredible.”

A first half goal to Matt Simon handed the Central Coast the advantage in the match, and substitute John Hutchinson sealed the result just moments prior to the final whistle with a strike from distance.

Simon made the most of some confusion at the back to pick up a loose ball deep inside Jets territory. The lanky striker rounded advancing goalkeeper Ben Kennedy before calmly slotting his left-footed shot home to give the visitors an early lead.

The Mariners would keep their advantage for the remainder of the match, but the Jets looked to strike back midway through the opening half through Labinot Haliti, who was chasing his third goal in as many games.

Jobe Wheelhouse initiated the move with a superb diagonal ball out of midfield, finding the flying Ryan Griffiths on the left wing. Griffiths sent in a dangerous cross for Haliti to volley, but his strike could not beat in-form goalkeeper Matt Ryan.

Substitute Sasho Petrovski also had an opportunity to level matters after being brought on for Haliti just after the hour mark.

The 34-year-old rose highest to meet a Virgili cross from the right flank in the 73rd minute, but his header soared agonisingly over the bar.

Meanwhile, the visitors had their chances to double their lead in the second half through Simon and his strike partner Adam Kwasnik. Both failed to make the most of excellent scoring opportunities when one-on-one with Kennedy.

It would be Hutchinson who would give the Mariners the cushion that they were looking for three minutes before full-time, though, as he sprinted onto a clever square ball played by midfielder Michael McGlinchey. The 31-year-old hit his first-time strike sweetly from outside the area, giving Kennedy no chance.

In a positive for the Jets, striker Jeremy Brockie made his return from an ankle injury which has kept him sidelined for four months. Culina, meantime, paid tribute to the Mariners, who moved to second place on the Hyundai A-League ladder after the victory.

“Credit to the Central Coast, they were the better team and they deserved to win,” said Culina.

The Jets will take to the road over the next few weeks as they clash with Gold Coast United, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory before returning home to take on Sydney FC on Sunday, 6 February. Tickets for this huge NSW derby are available by visiting www.proticket.com.au.

Match Details:

Newcastle Jets: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Taylor REGAN, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 7. Kasey WEHRMAN (c)( 26. James VIRGILI 12-), 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Labinot HALITI (13. Sasho PETROVSKI 64-), 17. Marcello FIORENTINI, 18. Marko JESIC (16. Jeremy BROCKIE 76-), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS

Unused substitutes: 40. Matt NASH (gk)

Yellow Cards: Marko Jesic 71-

Red Cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Matt RYAN (gk), 3. Josh ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC (16. Trent SAINSBURY 90-), 6. Patrick ZWAANWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ (7. John HUTCHINSON 76-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 23. Adam KWASNIK (13. Michael BAIRD 64-)

Unused substitutes: 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk)

Yellow Cards: Nil

Red Cards: Nil

Newcastle Jets: 0
Central Coast Mariners: 2 (Simon 14-, Hutchinson 87-)
Crowd: 13,467 at EnergyAustralia Stadium