Goals. Finally, goals. But even taking a 2-0 lead after 56 minutes was not enough to earn Newcastle Jets its first victory of the season. A 2-2 draw in the F3 Derby with Central Coast Mariners at the Hunter Stadium left both teams happy with a point but disappointed in how it happened.
The goals for the Jets were the first since February 27, fully 457 minutes of competitive action. The opener came from a Ruben Zadkovich to Nathan Burns free kick which led to Mariners goalkeeper Justin Pasfield stopping an Adam Taggart shot before defender Scott Neville tapped in on 51 minutes. Five minutes later, Pasfield committed the blunder of the season so far to give the Jets a second. The goalkeeper's poor touch from a Trent Sainsbury back pass sent the ball trickling across the line before Pasfield could clear, giving Newcastle an extremely unlikely goal. The crowd of nearly 14,000 roared and celebrating fans even spilled over an advertising board.
Video highlights via Fox Sports Australia:
But the euphoria for the Jets ended quickly when Conor Chapman handled a Justin Rose cross in the box, giving Marcos Flores a penalty in the 65th minute. The Mariners' maestro delivered but the referee forced a retake after encroachment. Flores buried the second attempt and gave Central Coast life in the derby. Once on the board, the Mariners were full throttle, especially taking advantage of 58th minute substitutes Matt Simon and Mile Sterjovski.
A combination of forwards provided the late equalizer for the visitors when Mitchell Duke sent a shot off the crossbar in the 80th minute. Sterjovski pounced and knocked in the tying goal from a tight angle to put the game back on level terms. The final ten minutes were intense as both teams desperately wanted what would have been a dramatic winner, but Pasfield redeemed himself with a fine save on a Zadkovich volley late on and the match finished at 2-2.
All three of Central Coast's draws this season have come with a goal after the 75th minute, twice in their favor and once, in the opener against Western Sydney Wanderers, to their detriment. With that said, the Mariners remain one of three unbeaten clubs in the A-League, staying on pace in the loss column with the Wanderers and Melbourne Victory. They currently sit in fourth place on six points. Newcastle still haven't won but they do have three draws and sit in seventh place on those three points, though surely now with a weight off their shoulders. Particularly given their offensive output without Emile Heskey, who was expected to make his season debut in the derby but was ultimately ruled out for one more week.
The Mariners host Brisbane Roar in a big game at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday November 10 in the final game of Round 5. Newcastle will aim for its first win with a visit to Adelaide United at the Coopers Stadium on Saturday November 9.
NEW Neville 51'
NEW Pasfield (og) 56'
CCM Flores (pen) 65'
CCM Sterjovski 80'
Newcastle Jets: Birighitti; Gallaway, Jaliens, Chapman, Neville (Pepper 66'); Zadkovich (Bridges 89'), Kantarovski, Brillante; Burns, Taggart, Hoole (Brown 83')
Unused subs: Kennedy, Goodwin
Central Coast Mariners: Pasfield; Rose, Sainsbury, Anderson, Roux; Fitzgerald (Simon 58'), Hutchinson, Montgomery (Sterjovski 58'); McGlinchey, Flores; Duke
Unused subs: Reddy, Seip, Griffiths